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Self-drive Bonito and South Pantanal

7 days from £1,925pp (excl. domestic & international flights)
Campo Grande  → Bonito  → Pantanal  → Campo Grande

A self-drive adventure in Bonito and the South Pantanal

Enjoy the freedom of the open road and flexibility of a self-drive adventure in the world's largest wetlands

Explore some of Brazil's most scenic and verdant landscapes on a captivating Pantanal Wetlands road trip. This journey offers a perfect blend of changing scenery, rural living, and abundant wildlife experiences. The adventure begins with a picturesque 4 to 5-hour cross-country drive to Bonito, a destination renowned for providing an escape from the city's hustle and bustle, immersing travellers deep within nature at the charming Pousada Olha d'Agua. The tranquil emerald waters of the Rio da Prata await, offering a highlight with its mesmerising snorkelling experience.

Continue the road trip into the heart of the Pantanal where the Refúgio da Ilha Eco-Lodge becomes your base. This region is famed for its endless activities and diverse safari style wildlife excursions and the lodge offers a flexible programme of included excursions, adrenaline-packed adventures, and educational trips, all guided by in-house specialist guides. At Refúgio da Ilha, you have the freedom to tailor your days to your preference—whether actively discovering the delicate ecosystem by horseback, canoe or simply relaxing in its tranquil surroundings. This immersive journey ensures a delightful balance of exploration and relaxation.

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The itinerary…

Day 1: Arrival to Campo Grande

Drive the Pantanal

Typical hire car

Upon landing at Campo Grande airport, you will collect the rental car from the Localiza counter and make your way to the Deville Campo Grande. Nestled in the heart of the city, this hotel offers a delightful blend of luxury and convenience, providing the perfect base for our road trip adventure. Depending on your arrival time, you might prefer to head straight for Bonito from Campo Grande airport.

Journey time: approx. 30 minutes (15km)

Day 2: Road trip to Bonito

Bonito clear waters

Snorkelling in Bonito

The journey from Campo Grande to the village of Bonito takes approximately 4 to 5 hours on well-maintained roads, offering a scenic route for exploration. This drive presents lots of opportunities for stops along the way, allowing travellers to savour the lush landscapes of Mato Grosso do Sul. Bonito, hailed as Brazil's eco-tourism capital, unfolds against a backdrop of limestone plateaux and valleys, providing an array of outdoor activities. The landscape features crystal-clear streams and deep lagoons, inhabited by a multitude of vibrant fish, while the riverbank boasts lush green vegetation. Bonito and its surroundings not only showcase breathtaking scenery but also offer diverse experiences for visitors to the area. Overnight at the charming Pousada Olha d’Agua, a short distance from the heart of Bonito.

Journey time: approx. 4-5h (310km)

Day 3: Snorkelling in the Rio da Prata and bird-watching for Macaws

Blue yellow macaw

Blue & yellow macaws

Start your extraordinary day in Bonito with a visit to the Rio da Prata and its captivating surroundings. Immerse yourself in the abundance of wildlife, explore impossibly clear lagoons, and revel in the lush vegetation along the riverbanks—ensuring an all-around adventure. Dive into the crystalline waters of Olho d’Água, a serene tributary of the Rio de la Prata, for a remarkable snorkelling experience, unrivalled in Brazil. The river acts as a living aquarium, showcasing an abundance of multi-coloured fish species and underwater plants, creating a mesmerising visual spectacle.

Following a delightful lunch on the shores of a nearby lagoon, the next destination is the ancient sinkhole, Buraco das Araras. Plunging 124 metres, this remarkable spectacle is a sanctuary for Macaws and tropical birds, finding refuge in the safety of the giant cave walls.

Journey time from Bonito to Rio da Prata: approx. 1 h (50 km)

Journey time from Rio da Prata to Buraco das Araras: approx. 15 min. (10 km)

Journey time from Buraco das Araras to Bonito: approx. 1 h (55 km)

Day 4: Onto the Pantanal

Giant River Otter

Giant river otter

On another scenic journey this morning, head north towards the Pantanal which is roughly a 3-hour drive along well-paved roads meandering through enchanting forests, picturesque meadows, and across the Rio Miranda. A notable detour awaits at the Boca da Onça Private Reserve, featuring hiking trails winding through emerald forests and showcasing no less than 14 waterfalls, with the tallest plummeting an impressive 156 metres. While a visit here requires 4-5 hours, this option must be decided upon the day before to secure a ticket.

Upon reaching the banks of the Rio Salobra, discover your Pantanal haven at Refúgio da Ilha. This intimate lodge, a quintessential family-run farmhouse, is dedicated to eco-tourism. Arriving before noon grants you a warm welcome with a delicious local lunch—perfect fuel for participating in the lodge’s afternoon activity, offering a first taste of the incredible biodiversity in the immediate surroundings. As the day winds down, savour a delightful dinner and unwind in the homely atmosphere, sharing stories with fellow travellers and the welcoming host family.

Journey time: approx. 3h (160 km)

Day 5: Exploring the Pantanal



As part of your stay at Refúgio da Ilha, their team of specialist guides offer two daily safari style excursions, providing you with the opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Pantanal. Largely untouched until the 20th century due to its inaccessible location and geology, the Pantanal now stands as a pristine example of natural preservation and hosts over 700 bird species, 80 mammals, 50 reptiles, 300 fish types, and countless plant varieties. An absolute paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, ecologists, and tourists alike.

Your adventures at Refúgio da Ilha include boat trips along Rio Salobra and Miranda, horse-back rides, walking trails, birding, 4 x 4 off-road adventures, and canoeing.

Day 6: Exploring the Pantanal

Blue Macaw

Blue macaw

Today promises yet another full day of safari style wildlife discoveries in this eco-sanctuary. For those opting to venture onto the waterways, keep an eye out for the colonies of giant otters that call this place home.

Alternatively, embark on a leisurely horseback ride to discover all that the Pantanal has to offer. It's a fantastic way to unearth the diverse flora and fauna of areas that may be too challenging or remote to explore on foot. Whether on water or horseback, the Pantanal's natural wonders await your exploration.

Day 7: Return to Campo Grande and onward travel

Pantanal scenery

Tranquil wetlands

As your time in the Pantanal comes to an end, embark on the final drive back towards Campo Grande. The return leg offers an entirely different perspective, allowing you to soak up beautiful new wetland views along the way. Anticipate a 4-hour journey, plus the time needed to return the rental car to the airport before any onward flight. Reflect on the captivating experiences of the Pantanal, cherishing the memories as you traverse the scenic landscapes one last time.

Journey time: approx. 4 hours (320km)

Duration: 7 days

Location: Brazil Holidays, South America Holidays

Price: £1925pp

From £1,925pp based on two people sharing, excluding international /domestic flights.

The trip includes all accommodations and activities specified above. Rooms and meals are as follows:

1 night at Deville Campo Grande – Deluxe room, breakfast included

2 nights at Pousada Olho d’Agua - Standard room, breakfast included

3 nights at Refugio da Ilha – Standard room, all meals included, excursions included in shared basis

Also includes:

English speaking guide assistance for rental car pick-up, Air-conditioned rental car with insurance, Self-drive information pack, with detailed roadbook and small maps, guides and other fees where stated as included.

This trip excludes:

Single Supplements, flights to /from Campo Grande, meals not mentioned as included.

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Tailor this trip around your preferred dates, your budget and your ideas

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When to go to Brazil

Discover the best time to visit Brazil with our helpful guide.

  • Best
  • Good
  • Mixed
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
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January is a fantastic month to visit Brazil as it marks the peak of the summer season. The weather is hot and sunny, perfect for enjoying the stunning beaches and vibrant coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is also a great time to experience the famous Carnival, with its colourful parades, lively music, and exuberant street parties.



February is still a popular month to visit Brazil due to the continuation of the summer season. The weather remains warm, and you can indulge in various outdoor activities such as hiking, surfing, and exploring the Amazon rainforest. Additionally, February offers the opportunity to witness smaller-scale Carnival celebrations in different regions of the country, showcasing unique local traditions and customs.



March signals the end of summer in Brazil, but the pleasant weather lingers, making it an ideal time to explore the country. The temperatures start to cool down slightly, making it more comfortable for outdoor adventures. March also brings festivals like Lollapalooza Brazil, attracting music enthusiasts from around the world. It's a great month to visit popular destinations like São Paulo, Brasília, and the stunning Iguazu Falls.



April in Brazil offers a delightful transition between summer and autumn. The weather remains pleasant, with mild temperatures and lower humidity, making it an excellent time for outdoor exploration. It's an ideal month to visit the Pantanal wetlands, where you can observe diverse wildlife, including jaguars and caimans. April also marks the beginning of the surfing season in northeastern Brazil, with destinations like Florianopolis and Itacaré attracting surfers from around the globe.



In May, Brazil experiences autumn, bringing cooler weather and a decrease in tourist numbers. This creates an ideal opportunity to discover vibrant cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro without overwhelming crowds. It is also a fantastic month for ecotourism, with options such as exploring the breathtaking Chapada Diamantina National Park or embarking on a river cruise along the Amazon. These adventures allow visitors to immerse themselves in the lush landscapes and experience the country's incredible biodiversity. May in Brazil offers a perfect blend of milder temperatures, serene environments, and remarkable natural wonders.



June in Brazil is a month filled with festivities and cultural celebrations. The most prominent event is the Festa Junina, a traditional festival that honours Saint John. During this time, you can immerse yourself in lively street parties, traditional dances, and delicious local delicacies. June is also an excellent month for nature enthusiasts to visit the Pantanal, as the dry season begins, making wildlife sightings more abundant.



In July, Brazil reaches the peak of winter, providing a pleasant climate across the country. This makes it an ideal month for exploring the historic towns of Minas Gerais, known for their charming colonial architecture and vibrant cultural heritage. Additionally, July is a fantastic time to visit the stunning beaches of Northeast Brazil, including popular destinations like Jericoacoara and Fernando de Noronha. Here, you can bask in warm waters, soak up the sun, and be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes that these coastal paradises have to offer.



August is an ideal month to explore popular tourist spots in Brazil, as the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. Cities like Salvador and Recife are known for their lively music scenes and vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, offering numerous chances to indulge in local rhythms. Additionally, this month provides a fantastic opportunity to discover the breathtaking wonders of the Amazon rainforest. The comfortable weather during August allows for enjoyable trekking and wildlife observation, creating an unforgettable experience in the heart of nature.



September welcomes the arrival of spring, transforming the country with blooming flowers and rejuvenated landscapes. As the weather becomes warmer, it's the perfect time to visit the stunning beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Florianopolis, where you can soak up the sun, surf the waves, and embrace the vibrant coastal culture



October in Brazil brings pleasant temperatures and a decrease in tourist crowds, making it an ideal month for outdoor activities. One must-visit destination during this time is the iconic Iguazu Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The water levels are typically high, allowing visitors to witness the falls in their full splendour, with the thundering cascades creating a breathtaking spectacle.



As November arrives in Brazil, it brings the beginning of summer, with rising temperatures and ample sunshine. This makes it an excellent time to visit the renowned beaches of Brazil. Whether you're looking to indulge in exciting water sports, sunbathe on golden sands, or simply unwind amidst the coastal beauty, these beach destinations offer an idyllic retreat.



Moreover, December presents excellent opportunities for diving and snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago renowned for its stunning marine life and pristine beaches. Alternatively, nature lovers can explore the landscapes of the Pantanal, a vast wetland ecosystem teeming with diverse wildlife, before the onset of the rainy season.


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