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300km (186 miles) SW of Campo Grande

You have to admire Bonito. Though located in the middle of nowhere -- it's 300km (186 miles) from Campo Grande, and Campo Grande is already the end of the earth for most Brazilians -- this small town has turned itself into a prime eco-tourism destination for Brazilians and foreigners who come to snorkel, raft, and rappel. To accommodate these eco-tourists, Bonito's tourism industry has created the kind of collusion that would make oil companies envious. All excursions cost the same, no matter where and how you book them. All trips are guided, numbers are capped each day, and transportation is not provided. Only taxis offer transportation and -- you guessed it -- they all charge the exact same fare. Brazilians first arrived after the town was featured in a nightly soap opera (if the moon had been featured in one of those novelas, the Brazilians would have been the first ones to land there), and more and more international travelers are drawn to Bonito as well.

The attraction is not the town. What people come for are the rivers; the numerous streams that bubble up from the substrate of limestone rock are so free of impurities that you get the kind of crystal-clear visibility normally found only in tropical oceans. You can see 21 to 30m (70-100 ft.) in these fast-flowing rivers, and they're full of freshwater dourado and pintado, not to mention the occasional anaconda. The area also has numerous caves and waterfalls. However, all of the prime terrain is on private land and you're only allowed on as part of an excursion.

Is the trip worth it? It's a long way to go, but the rivers are fun and fascinating. It's also instructive to see this little town in action, gouging tourists who fork over the bucks as a matter of course. A package tour with transportation and admission (such as the ones offered by Open Door in Campo Grande) is recommended; you will get no better prices once you get there, and at least it'll save the frustration of opening your wallet every time you want to do something.