In April 2019 I went on an inspection trip to Bonito. Snorkelling along the Rio da Prata river (one of the most sought-after excursions here) was one of the highlights of this trip! The excursion revealed many more surprises than I was expecting.
We were very well received by the staff and were given a thorough briefing before we slipped into our swimming gear, wet-suites, boots, masks and snorkels. It was a whole happening! If you have your own appropriate gear, feel free to use it, but their equipment is great and well maintained. I joined up with others to form a happy group of 8. Our guide accompanied us to the vehicle that took us to our starting point – a well signposted forest trail that led us through riverine rainforest to the point where we were to plunge into the Olho D’Água, a crystal-clear creek that feeds the Rio da Prata river. Upon arrival we were offered optional life jackets, which I accepted right away! After easing ourselves into the astoundingly clear waters with our surprisingly buoyant wet-suites, our guide gave us some additional rules and instructions – particularly useful for those who have never snorkelled before ?. Our guide was very knowledgeable and made the experience even more special. As she led us along, she told us all about the many fish species that inhabit this fascinating underwater world. Snorkelling required hardly any effort as the gentle current carried us past schools of colourful fish, submerged branches and underwater scenes that made me feel as though I was swimming in a tropical aquarium. I was briefly rattled by approaching rapids and only too relieved to learn that we would leave the water here, walk a couple of metres and then re-enter the river further downstream. Of equal beauty were the towering trees with branches that stretched and embraced each other above us. Visibility decreased and the water became chillier as the Olho D’Água merged with the deeper Rio da Prata River. This last stretch took only about 15 minutes, before we reached our exit point. We had spent about 1h40 minutes in the water but it had gone by in a flash. I wanted to do it all over again!
From here we were driven back to the ‘fazenda’ where a delicious regional lunch awaited us: simple but tasty food with a variety of meat, fish, some vegetarian dishes and desserts to die for! After lunch, we took time to rest in one of the many hammocks and take pictures of the resident macaws.
Some tips for this tour:
I hope I have the opportunity to return to Bonito one day with my son. I am generally afraid to swim in rivers but this was completely different – an incredible, and in my case overwhelming experience.