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Pantanal to Iguazu... possible? Has anyone done it?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Pantanal to Iguazu... possible? Has anyone done it?

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1. Posted by markcoxy (Budding Member 10 posts) 8y

Hi everyone,

A freind and I are travelling from Lima - Rio in Dec08//Jan09. We have our first month in Peru pretty much sorted but would love some advice/tips/suggestions on the second leg of our journey from Bolivia into Brazil, and then ultimately to Rio.

We are keen to go overland from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Corumba in the Pantanal, do a tour for 3 or so days at a lodge in the Southern Pantanal, and then go overland to Iguazu. I can't find any info on whether this trip is actually possible? Has anyone done this via bus? The plan would be to do the 24hour bus from Iguazu to Rio, where we fly out of.

How much time would you allocate for this trip (Santa Cruz - Pantanal - Iguazu - Rio)? Is it realistic to do this area justice in about 3 weeks?

A couple of other questions:
- What are must-sees in Bolivia? Is Uyuni/Salt Flats worth the trip?
- Has anyone done any favela tours in Rio? What might be some good orgs to check out?

Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Mark ;)

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 8y

Hi Mark,

When you say 'southern Pantanal', you mean near Jardim or Dourados? Either way, there will be busses going to Iguazu. My guess (haven't done it) is that you can either get there via Paraguay (Ponta Porã - Ciudad del Este), or through Brazil, probably via Guaira and Cascavel. Worst case scenario would be having to go east to Ourinhos first, then south, but even that wouldn't take you much more than 24 hours tops.

3 weeks for the leg from Santa Cruz to Rio seems to be the a good time window. More would be great, but isn't that necessary.

As to Bolivia, pretty much everything I've been to is worth it, and probably everywhere else as well. Sucre is particularly nice and beautiful, as is Potosí. Also heard very good stories about the Pando district up north, which is difficult to reach, but very rewarding since there's little tourism there. The salares near Uyuni are not to be missed, although ideally you should include them in a very different itinerary (to Chile) to avoid backtracking. Regarding the favelas, I wouldn't know. Personally I'm opposed to that kind of tourism, but we have a couple of threads on it. Have you searched the forums, or checked the Rio de Janeiro article in the Travel Guide?

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 8y

Just did that a few weeks ago.
We stayed in a small town called Miranda which is halfway between Corumba and Campo Grande.
If you want to spend time at a lodge, try the Fazenda San Francisco which is about half an hour from Miranda on the road to Corumba. We did a night tour among other things and saw a jaguar and an ocelot over there. It was one of the best places to have a chance to see some predators.

Buses between Corumba and Campo Grande stop in Miranda. Corumba-Campo Grande is about 6-7 hours, Miranda-Campo Grande just over 3 hours. There are about a dozen of buses or so a day, main company is Andorinha (portugese only).

Although small, Miranda has some fairly good places to stay.

From Campo Grande buses travel either directly to Foz, or via Cascavel.
We took a bus to Cascavel (10 hours from Campo Grande) and onwards to Foz (another 2 hours), which is not to bad. If you want you can spend a day or so first in Campo Grande to break the journey.

If you want to visit Bonito as well, there is one bus from Miranda late in the afternoon. From Bonito you can travel back to Campo Grande to travel via Ponta Pora and through Paraguay, but involves some more stops and organizing I guess.

Like Bentivogli said, much of Bolivia is worth it. If you want to avoid backtracking, try a 3-5 day tour with Tupiza Tours which you can start in Tupiza or Uyuni and end in the other place. In your case, it would be best to travel south to Tupiza first (bus/train) and do the tour ending in Uyuni, which is better for onward transport to Sucre and further on. They are highly recommended, good cars, guides and food. Basic lodging of course and take warm clothes;)

Enjoy and cheers!
Michael

[ Edit: Edited on Jul 8, 2008, at 1:21 AM by Utrecht ]

4. Posted by BR-UNO (Inactive 31 posts) 8y

Hey Mark,
I think it’s all been said about the transport.
About the favela tours, I personally don’t agree with the organized safaris to the favelas but in January/February there are always samba school rehearsals at the communities and they are great. There are some favela funk parties that are also pretty safe too, even for travellers.
Again: If you have time in Pantanal, Bonito is not to be missed!
Wish you a nice trip! If you have any further question, please let me know.
Cheers,
Bruno.

5. Posted by El Boot (Full Member 106 posts) 8y

It will take an overnight run to get from La Paz to Santa Cruz, then another overnight run from there to Puerto Suarez (border). We got a train, theres 3 classes and they run on different days. Book in advance from the buis/train station in Santa Cruz.

about the favellas, all the hostels do tours where you pay and you go in a group which we didnt want to do...Instead I a walk up there during the day and went there again with a local we met on the beach. Met a few kids and bought a round of beers etc...Just dont go to far in..

6. Posted by markcoxy (Budding Member 10 posts) 8y

Thanks for those responses everyone!
I really appreciate the advice.

It sure looks like there will be a lot of bus journeys through the Pantanal and Brazil, but that doesn't really phase me. I will also look into Bonito - which I've haerd some great things about. Thanks Michael for the Miranda advice - that is pretty much exactly what we are after!
From experience, is it relatively easy to organise these bus trips? Given that I'll be travelling in the rainy/wet season, do the buses go as often?

Thanks also for the Rio favela trip advice. I work for World Vision here in Australia along with the friend I am travelling to Sth America with. We have confirmation today that we are able to visit a World Vision project in a Rio favela, which is what I was hoping for. I was just wondering whether any other organisations ran tours in the favela that would give an insight into the kind of development work being done in that urban context.

7. Posted by El Boot (Full Member 106 posts) 8y

The bus journeys in Bolivia can be quite unpredictable and the general upkeep of the transport sometimes isnt up to scratch. For example, I travelled from La Paz to S Cruz and I dont think the toilet was cleaned once and there are always laods of mothers with little kids so you can imagine hw pissy the floor gets. So maybe use the toilets at rest stops instead...

The trains are generally ok. We took one from Villazon to Uyuni and it had a dining carriage that served decent enough dinners and wine...

When you get to Brazil you will notice the different in cleanliness and efficiency of buses...

(sorry not sure bout seasons)

8. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 8y

Quoting markcoxy


From experience, is it relatively easy to organise these bus trips? Given that I'll be travelling in the rainy/wet season, do the buses go as often?.

Probably they do, the rainy season is not that bad in the Pantanal and roads are tarred all the way from Corumba eastwards. If you want to be sure of a certain bus at a certain time, try to arrange a day (or even half a day is enough) in front, some buses were full when we or on it.

Cheers!
Michael.

9. Posted by markcoxy (Budding Member 10 posts) 8y

Great!

So how does this sound, what I am thinking is:
Corumba - Miranda (4 days at a lodge in surrounding area) - Bonito (2 days to relax/break up trip) - Foz do Iguazu (2 days at falls, both Brazilian and Argentinian sides) - Rio (5 days).

Journeying all via bus. That will be a lot of (tiring) trips! Is it possible to go direct from Miranda to Bonito, or do I have to go to Campo Grande first? The information I have found online and in guidebooks never mentions a direct route between Miranda and Bonito though I'm sure its possible (anyone done this?).

10. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 8y

Quoting markcoxy

Great!

So how does this sound, what I am thinking is:
Corumba - Miranda (4 days at a lodge in surrounding area) - Bonito (2 days to relax/break up trip) - Foz do Iguazu (2 days at falls, both Brazilian and Argentinian sides) - Rio (5 days).

Journeying all via bus. That will be a lot of (tiring) trips! Is it possible to go direct from Miranda to Bonito, or do I have to go to Campo Grande first? The information I have found online and in guidebooks never mentions a direct route between Miranda and Bonito though I'm sure its possible (anyone done this?).

We asked around in Miranda because we first wanted to go via Bonito as well and there is only one bus a day (not with Andorinha I think, other company) that leaves around 4 or 5 PM. Best to book in advance when arriving in Miranda I guess. I believe it takes like 3 hours aprox.
4 days at a lodge sounds great. 5 days Rio is fine I guess as well and Bonito not sure, maybe a day more?
But Iguazu I would certainly advice those 2 days at least. Brazilian side 3 hours is enough, trust me. It is nothing more than a 1000-1500 meters walkway with great views. Unless you want to go abseiling, taking a helicopter ride, do boat tours and walking tours etc. which takes time and costs a lot of money. No need to do that.
The Argentinian side we stayed 2 full days which I didn't find too much. There are several fine walks, including one a bit further from the falls through the forests which is free of charge (wow!). Then there are the upper and lower circuit and a boatride to the San Martin Island. And the Garganta del Diablo is great as well.
But 2 days total is possible.

Cheers!