Cuiaba, Red Carpet Entrance to The Pantanal
Cuiaba is the mellow capital of the state of Matto Grosso and the hottest city in Brazil.
Together with Campo Grande in the south, Cuiaba is the main gateway to the vast wilderness of the
Besides the Pantanal, the national park of Chapada dos Guimarães is another eco destination in reach of Cuiaba.
The city is fairly green itself with some shady squares and therefore Cuiaba sports the nickname Cidade Verde (Green City).
Other than that, Cuiaba does not have much to offer to the tourist visitor; the city mainly serves as springboard to the unique surroundings of the northern Pantanal and the spectacular Chapada dos Guimarães.
In 2014, Cuiaba was a host city of
FIFA World Cup Brazil.
The Pantanal in Midwest Brazil is the largest marshland in the worldand a very important ecosystem.
The flat lands of the Pantanal will flood in the wet season (November until March), creating all kinds of habitats.
These are accommodating numerous birds, mammals, fish and reptiles. Moreover, the Pantanal is home to the largest concentration of species in the western hemisphere! (Yes, including mosquitoes so bring plenty of insect repellent...)
The entire Pantanal area is sized about 210,000 km2/ 81,000 square miles. This is about the same size as Guyana, the country in the north of South America. A bit over half of the Pantanal is in Brazil, the other half is shared by Paraguay and Bolivia.
In Brazil, the Pantanal is in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. Remarkably, there is only one - relatively small - national park in the area; most of the Pantanal is privately owned land (by cattle farmers for the most part).
The best time to visit the Pantanal is between May and September, although every time of year offers its special treats. The most common way to explore the Pantanal area is by an organized tour. These Pantanal tours usually last two to five days and can be arranged in Cuiaba (and Campo Grande).
As soon as you walk into the arrival halls of the Cuiaba airport and bus station, you will be approached by tour agents.
Other than in Manaus/ The Amazon, these are usually trustworthy and sometimes offer better prices for their services than the offices in town.
Nevertheless, always get informed thoroughly on all aspects of the Pantanal trips (and other, like to Chapada dos Guimaraes national park), before you decide with whom you will do business.
The Pantanal is waiting for you!
It is possible to travel the Pantanal independently, but this will be an expensive and stressful affair. There are plenty of transportation options, sometimes depending of the time of year (i.e. the amount of rain). Think of by boat, 4WD, airplane or even on horseback! If coming from Cuiaba by car, you have to drive south of the city.
From the town of Poconé, the last stop to stock up on supplies, you follow the road all the way to Porto Jofre, deep in the heart of the Pantanal.
This road is called the Transpantaneira, with no less than 126 bridges to cross!
In the dry season, the Transpantaneira is passable by a conventional car (other times of year definitely not).
Along the road you will encounter plenty of wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
Overnighting along the Transpantaneira:
• High end :
Araras Eco Lodge – Transpantaneira Km 32
Hotel Porto Jofre – Transpantaneira Km 145
• Midrange :
Pouso Alegre – Transpantaneira Km 33
• Budget/ Camping :
Porto Paraiso – Transpantaneira Km 17
This pleasant town, northeast of Cuiaba, is the second most popular eco destination of Mata Grosso after the Pantanal. Chapada dos Guimarães is also the number one weekend escape for Cuiabaians, so keep this in mind when planning your visit to Chapada.
Furthermore, Chapada dos Guimarães is also a favourite destination among the new age movement as well as the bird watching brigade...
|The area of the 500 million year old plateau is spectacular and hiking options are endless; you walk from cave to waterfall and from gorge to odd rock formation.
Do not miss out on the Mirante lookout; not only for the great views but you are here right in the geographic heart of South America.
In Chapada dos Guimarães as well as at the entrance of the park, there is information available.
You will make the best of your visit if you bring your own transport or join a tour. The town of Chapada dos Guimarães has plenty of shops and cafes on offer, making it a good base camp for exploring the area. To get the most of your trip to Chapa dos Guimarães, you should stay at least two days.
Overnighting in Chapada dos Guimarães:
• High end :
Pousada Penhasco – Av Penhasco
• Midrange :
Turismo Hotel – Rua Fernando Corrêa da Costa 1065
• Budget/ Backpackers :
Pousada Bom Jardim – Praça Dom Wunibaldo 641
Would you like to book one of these hotels or perhaps another one?
• Hotel Deville Cuiaba – Av Isaac Povoas 1000
• Hotel Gran Odara – Av Miguel Sutil 8344
• Amazon Plaza – Av Presidente Getúlio Vargas 600
• Hotel Mato Grosso – Av Afonso Pena 772
• Pousada Ecoverde – Rua Pedro Celestino 391
• Hotel Samara – Rua Joaquim Murtinho 270
• Hostel Safari – Rua 24 de Outubro 111
• Pantanal Backpackers – Av Marechal Deodoro 2301
• Al Manzul – Av Arquimede Pereira Lima
• Peixaria Popular – Av São Sebastião 2324
Fish/ local cuisine
• Choppao – Praça 8 de Abril
Pizza/ local cuisine
• Haus Bier – Av Mato Grosso 1000
• Conde de Azambuja – Praça da Mandioca
You can fly into Cuiaba through Marechal Rondo Airport (IATA-code: CGB). The airport is located in the Várzea Grande part of Cuiaba, only 14 km/ 5 miles from the city centre. From Cuiaba there are connections to many cities in Brazil by several airlines. Tourist information, car rental, travel agencies and ATMs are all available.
Would you like to book a cheap flight ticket to this city?
The rodoviária (long-haul bus terminal) of Cuiaba is located along the highway to Chapada dos Guimarães, about 4 km/ 2 miles north of the city centre. There are plenty of local buses heading for ‘Centro’.
Some time indications on travelling by bus to and from Cuiaba:
|Chapada dos Guimarães :||1.5 hours|
|Pocone :||2 hours|
|Caceres :||4 hours|
|Campo Grande :||11 hours|
|Alta Floresta d’Oeste :||13.5 hours|
|Goiania :||15 hours|
|Brasilia :||15 hours|
|Santa Cruz (Bolivia) :||18 hours|
|Porto Velho :||24 hours|
|Rio de Janeiro :||32 hours|
From the bus terminal and the airport you can take a ticket-taxi from inside the premises. From the bus terminal you can also catch a moto-taxi.
Car rental Cuiaba
Many major national and international brands are available in Cuiaba, both at the airport and in the city. Remember you best rent a 4x4 for the Pantanal; in the wet season you might consider not to drive yourself at all, unless you are a seasoned off-road driver.