Brazil and Bolivia Tours:
You will not set out for a place until you first know that it exists. For Brazil, our cultural images often resemble tropical beaches and brilliant costumes. For Bolivia, it’s usually colorful ponchos set in the Andes. There is nothing wrong with this, if you’re merely interested in visiting the destinations listed in the first three pages of the catalogue. But there will always be that proverbial fourth page, containing those obscure gems entirely missed by the impatient or incurious.
Here is one of these routes less traveled, connecting the nightlife of an often-overlooked city with world-class wildlife viewing in Brazil and Bolivia. Learn about how to combine Brazil and Bolivia Tours, especially the Pantanal, with the 4* & 5* South America travel experts at SouthAmerica.travel.
Brazil: The PantanalThe Amazon jungle is so dense, it’s often difficult to see many animals before they disappear into the thick of it. The Pantanal is the opposite: open, obvious and teeming with colorful species.
Once you’ve seen Rio, head somewhere different and remote. Fly to Cuiabá, the gateway to the Pantanal, and the geodesic center of South America. You will be taken to your lodge at the end of the paved road, located in the Poconé municipality.
This has been a base for gold mining since the Jesuits arrived over 450 years ago. Notice the environment change during the 60km ride from the plains surrounding Cuiabá to the plains of Poconé. With fruit trees nearby and resplendent skies as constant company, this area will serve as your central hub for the next few days.
And these days will be so full! Ride horses and see which of the following you can spot: agoutis, capuchin monkeys, hyacinth macaws, giant anteaters, marsh deer among many others. When night falls, there will be opportunities to view nocturnal species, such as the local jacarés (caiman). In the morning take a boat tour of Lake Piuval and join in for some piranha fishing. Not far away is Chapada dos Guimarães, a picturesque forested plateau ending in a sheer drop with a waterfall. Only a bit further you’ll find Nobres, an underrated and overlooked area of limestone caves where you will snorkel through crystal clear waters, passing dourado fish angling amongst the stalagmites.
View our tour of the Pantanal & the Chapada Dos Guimaraes Farm Stay.
Less than an hour’s flight south to Campo Grande allows you one of the best opportunities in the world for spotting jaguars. Stay at the Jaguar Lodge and spend a couple days viewing wildlife in the south of the Pantanal during dawn, dusk or night.
View all our Pantanal Tours.
Getting from Brazil to Bolivia
When you’re ready for Bolivia, fly direct from Cuiabá to Corumbá on the border, where you will cross into Puerto Suárez.
From Puerto Suárez, take a scenic 24-hour train ride to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It may be known as the “death train,” but don’t worry! That’s only because it used to transport Yellow Fever victims. Just another reason to keep your vaccinations current.
Bolivia: Santa Cruz
Bolivia’s largest city also contains its fastest growing population, and has become the nation’s business, financial, and agricultural capital as well. Bolivians living in and around Santa Cruz are known as Camba, as opposed to the Colla of western Bolivia. Camba are well known for regularly drinking 180-proof rum while maintaining lower rates of alcoholism than most cultures in the world. This is partly due to the fact that drinking alone is unthinkable here. So if you’re ready for a night out, dress to impress and cruise the piranhar (strip, literally ‘to go piranha fishing’) to meet some locals at one of the many bars.
Observe the city from the bell tower of the elegant cathedral. Chat sports with the locals. Soccer players from around the world travel to Santa Cruz because of their unique training style, which has players train in rivers and run through mountains of sand. Catch a fútbol game at one of the two main stadiums. Expect lively crowds!
When you’ve had your fill of city life, catch a two-hour ride from Santa Cruz to Samaipata, where you can explore the grand, pre-Incan Chané city, known as El Fuerte. There are also ruins of an Incan city near the temple, as well as Spanish ruins. Close to Samaipata is Amboró National Park, located at the “elbow of the Andes.” Here dwell 60% of Bolivia’s birds, pumas, ocelots and even the rare spectacled bear. The park is nearly the size of Trinidad & Tobago, and is a must for anyone traveling in eastern Bolivia.
When you return to Santa Cruz you can catch a flight home. You may think you’re seeing a jaguar crouched behind your flight attendant, or an anaconda curled in an overhead compartment, but just remember that it may take awhile for the impression of South America to fade away.
Book a customized Brazil and Bolivia Tour
Are you interested in learning more about how to combine Brazil and Bolivia Tours, especially the Pantanal? Get in touch with the 4* & 5* South America travel experts at SouthAmerica.travel and request a custom South America tour that includes a Brazil and Bolivia tour.