Something is not lacking in the central west of Brazil: water. A plentiful rainy season and a large number of rivers, streams and lakes make water abundant. High temperatures throughout the year turn water not only into a necessity but a close-by, low-cost source of leisure, if not simply a way of cooling! Growing up in this region, swimming in rivers was always a part of life. I have many wonderful memories of soaking for hours in the shallow waters of the Coxipó River, watching colorful fish go by, family and friends gathered together, chatting and having a good time. Some sad memories, too, of people drowning often because of having too much beer and then going for a dive somewhere where the currents were too tricky. Even now, with some of the rivers of my childhood having sadly become too polluted for swimming, there’s still plenty of clean clear water accessible to most everyone who has a car or a friend who has a car. Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, some 50 minutes from Cuiabá, the capital city, is one of the places where people can still freely enjoy the water.
In a few regions of the state of Mato Grosso, however, water is more protected from access. This is understandably the case of Nobres and Bom Jardim, where too much human traffic could disturb the sources important rivers such as the Salobra, with negative consequences to the delicate ecosystem to which it brings life. With family and friends I spent a day there during my visit to Brazil in 2012, but you could easily spend two or three. Or a lifetime.
Depending on the road you take, the town of Nobres can be 125 Km (78 miles) or 140 Km (86 miles) north of Cuiabá, the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Our drive to Bom Jardim, a district of Nobres, took a little longer than usual due to road work but it was well worth it. We were in for a treat.
My sister Astrid reminded me to mention that the palm trees you see in the photo above is known in Brazil as the buriti, the “tree of life”. Wherever you see this plant, you can be sure you will also find water. The buriti is used fully by local communities. From the trunk, canoes and paddles are made. Oils are extracted from the fruit and seeds, and the leaves are used for roofs. Yet, the “buritizais”- areas where there is a high concentration of buritis, are very sustainable. Once the oil has been extracted, the seeds are usually thrown back into the soil, thus constantly generating new plant growth.
I need more meetings like these. These super transparent waters with blueish reflections are a result of the limestone in the area. Limestone interacts beautifully with the topography and weather of this region, creating incredible caves, lagoons and waterways. Hiking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba-diving are some of the activities you can enjoy. If you prefer to lay low, there’s places to relax and let time go by with a cold beer in your hand. Just please don’t go swimming after that.
How to get there: Tut Transportes has bus services from Cuiabá to Rosário Oeste and Nobres. Be aware, though, that all the different locations to visit in the region will require private transportation since they are not within walking distance. Several of the attractions in the region are located within the district of Bom Jardim, outside the town of Nobres. So, renting a car in Cuiabá or getting a friend to drive you makes more sense. Otherwise, you will need to hire local transportation with tourist agencies in the area, which adds to your travel costs very quickly and limits your ability to go to places in your own schedule.
Where to stay: There are several options of accommodation in the area. I particularly enjoyed the facilities of the Pousada Reino Encantado. Make sure to call in advance and make a reservation and have cash for the payment since they don’t accept credit cards. Cell phone coverage in the area is very unreliable and there is no internet service. That’s why I like it.