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Muy Bonito!

When we arrived in Bonito we knew exactly what we wanted to do – snorkel in the Rio da Prata (river of silver). This river is famous for being incredibly clear and full of many different types of fish that swim alongside you.

Bonito is a small and quiet town in the Mato Grosso area of Brazil

Bonito is a small and quiet town in the Mato Grosso do Sul area of Brazil

We intended to stay for a few nights, so we booked our snorkelling trip as soon as we arrived but we were interested to see what else we could do with our time. We quickly found that Bonito is the little Brazilian town with a whole lot going on. You could visit one of its many balnearios (parks), see the largest sinkhole in South America (which has been colonised by hordes of red macaws), rappel into a giant cave and visit a subterranean lake, which is known for its vivid blue hue.

we particularly liked Bonito's interesting public telephone boxes

we particularly liked Bonito’s interesting public telephone boxes

The only problem for us was that we were limited with funds and none of the tours included transport to or from the attractions – which meant we’d need to get a taxi everywhere. Having seen nesting macaws in the Amazon and hearing mixed reviews about the caves, we chose to rent some bikes and cycle the 10kms to Bonito’s Balneario Municipal.

Bonito's

Bonito’s Balneario Municipal

So, on a sunny Bonito morning, we arrived in the park and were amazed to see the clearest and cleanest looking river we have ever seen running right through its centre. We didn’t have any snorkelling gear with us, but it was amazing just to cool off in the crystal clear water after relaxing in the sun.

The water was so clear you could see the fish through the surface of the water!

You could even see the fish clearly through the surface of the water!

Knowing that the park was nothing compared to Rio da Prata, the day left us looking forward to our snorkelling experience even more.

When the day finally came for our Rio da Prata snorkelling tour, we met our guide and were given all the gear we needed – including a wet suit, boots and snorkel.

The suits were a tight fit!

The suits were a tight fit!

We set off for a short walk through the forest to reach the river and, along the way, the guide excitedly pointed out some capybara and a weird chicken-type bird that lives on the forest floor.

Walking through the forest - we couldn't wait to get to the river!

Walking through the forest – we couldn’t wait to get to the river!

After about 30 minutes, we reached the water. It looked like a huge lake with water even clearer than the river at the park.

The start of our snorkelling adventure!

The start of our snorkelling adventure!

Our guide explained that this was the start of Rio Olha d’Agua and that it would lead into Rio da Prata. We were impatient to get going and explore, but we needed a quick safety briefing before lowering ourselves into the lake and doing a training loop.

The water was refreshingly cool after a very warm walk through the jungle in a tight and non-breathable wetsuit!

The water was refreshingly cool after a very warm walk through the jungle in a tight and non-breathable wetsuit!

As soon as you put your face into the water, it was like being inside a fish tank. Everywhere you looked there was fish – and the water was so crystal clear you could see at least 15 metres ahead.

Our first look

Our first look

There was also barely any need to swim. The wet suits and the strong current meant that we were simply floating along the surface and the more still you could be, the closer the fish would get – some of them came right up to our faces!

There were at least 20 different species of fish in the river

There were at least 20 different species of fish in the river

Sometimes the water was so clear it looked as if the fish were swimming through air!

Sometimes the water was so clear it looked as if the fish were swimming through air!

Floating down the river was extremely relaxing, until we saw a huge anaconda swim across our path to the riverbank!

The scariest moment of the day - when a three-metre long anaconda swam across in front of us!

The scariest moment of the day – when a three-metre long anaconda swam across in front of us!

Being in the water was a bit surreal because things seemed to appear much closer than they actually were. A few times I would breathe in and stretch myself out flat to get over a group of sharp looking rocks, only for me to sail over them without a problem. This plan didn’t work though when we had to get out of the water briefly to avoid some rocky rapids. I hadn’t realised how close I really was to the rocks and my leg managed to float right into one of them – cutting open my knee in the process. It looked much worse than it was and, after a quick bit of first-aid from the guide, we were back in the water and on our way.

Everywhere you looked there was more new and beautiful things to see

Everywhere you looked there was more new and beautiful things to see

At one of our rest stops you could even see underwater springs, where the fresh clear water was bubbling up from the ground into the river. The way it shifted the sand made it look like a little volcano under the water, but they were surprisingly cold.

The springs where the beautifully clear water comes from. Apparently there's a special type of rock in this area that leeches out impurities in the water. We were warned not to drink it though - it's not good for your tummy!

The springs where the beautifully clear water comes from. Apparently there’s a special type of rock in this area that leeches out impurities in the water – leaving it completely transparent. We were warned not to drink it though – it’s not good for your tummy!

We had so much fun in the river, we were surprised when we reached the end of our 3km ‘swim’. It was an amazing experience and definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far.

Comments

  1. Hi There Kirsty Just read your blog what a wonderful experience swimming with the fishes in such clear Water and love the new slim you. Libby will be in Australia for Christmas and is looking forward to seeing you she wants To make contact with you to arrange something .All fine with us here we are expecting Rob and Colleen soon ,so I’ve got to go now have fun. Lots of love , Mum and Dad xxxxx

    Sent from my iPad

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