Although getting to Corumbá involves quite a journey, once you’re here, as you can see from the heights of the city’s upper town, the Pantanal is literally at your feet. Subsequently, exploring the wetlands involves less traveling and can be done more inexpensively. Languid and incredibly humid, Corumbá is only 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from the Bolivian border and 400 kilometers (248 miles) west of Campo Grande (a seven-hour bus ride).
Founded in 1776, by the mid-1800s remote Corumbá surprisingly held the title as the largest river port in the world. Ships from the Atlantic would sail up the Rio de la Plata to the Rio Paraná and then continue along the Rio Paraguai to what was, at the time, a thriving city. However, by the early 20th century, spurred on by the arrival of the São Paulo–Paraguay railroad, the town’s fortunes had declined. Only recently, with the development of ecotourism and sports fishing (the region is considered one of the best freshwater fishing destinations in Brazil), has it gained a new lease on life.
Corumbá is awash with tour operators (and some rather aggressive representatives who will approach you in the street) offering fishing excursions, boat trips, and Jeep trips that range from budget to super luxurious, and last from half a day to a week. Joice Pesca e Tur (Rua Manuel Cavassa 1, tel. 67/3232-4048, www.joicetur.com.br) specializes in fishing excursions on a wide variety of vessels and barco-hotels. Canaã Viagens e Turismo (Rua Colombo 245, 3231-3667, www.pantanalcanaa.com.br) organizes both fishing trips and ecotourism packages into the Pantanal.
Getting to Corumbá
Corumbá’s Aeroporto Internacional (Rua Santos Dumont, tel. 67/3231-3322) has regular flights to Campo Grande and is also connected to Rio, São Paulo, and Brasília. It also operates small planes that go into the Pantanal. The airport is 5 kilometers (3 miles) north from the center of town and a taxi will cost around R$20–25.
The long-distance rodoviária (Rua Porto Carrero, tel. 67/3231-2033) is around 3 kilometers (2 miles) west from the center of town. Numerous daily buses operated by Andorinha (tel. 67/3231-2023, www.andorinha.com) link Corumbá with Campo Grande (7 hours), via Aquidauana and Miranda (3 hours).
Cruzeiro do Sul (tel. 67/3231-9318, www.cruzeirodosulms.com.br) offers service to Bonito (6 hours). Municipal buses connect the rodoviária with the local bus station in the center of town. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or moto-taxi.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition