Campo Grande, the prosperous and sprawling capital of Mato Grosso do Sul , is an agreeable (albeit often sweltering) city, with lots of tree-lined streets, that warrants a day’s exploration. Owing to its proximity to Paraguay and Argentina, it is suffused with a distinct Gaúcho flavor reflected in customs such as drinking tereré (iced maté) and eating sopa paraguaia (actually not a soup at all, but an omelette-like torte made with eggs, corn, smoky cheese, and onion).
With the state’s only airport connected to the rest of the country, Campo Grande is also Mato Grosso do Sul’s most obvious gateway for trips to the southern Pantanal  as well as the pristine rivers and lush landscapes surrounding the eco-mecca of Bonito .
Founded in 1889, Campo Grande is a fairly new city that only became state capital in 1978. Until quite recently, it was little more than a market center for the region’s vast cattle ranches. Despite many brash new high rises, its rural past hasn’t entirely rubbed off, and cowboy culture still lingers. Increasingly, however, the crops cultivated in Mato Grosso do Sul’s rich red earth have become as important, and profitable, as cattle.
Indeed, farmland was what originally drew many immigrants from São Paulo  and southern Brazil . With the inauguration, in 1914, of a railroad that stretched from São Paulo to the frontiers of Bolivia and Paraguay, Campo Grande became an important crossroads and thriving boom town that drew immigrants from far and wide, including a surprising number of Arabs and Japanese, most of whom started small businesses in the bustling town and whose presence is still felt today.
By air, Campo Grande has regular flights to São Paulo  and Rio , as well as to Cuiabá  and Corumbá . The Aeroporto Internacional (Av. Duque de Caxias, tel. 67/3368-6000) is 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) west of the center. A taxi is the easiest way to get downtown and will cost R$25–30.
The long-distance rodoviária (Rua Joaquim Nabuco 200, tel. 67/3383-1678) is close to the center, and one block off the main drag of Avenida Afonso Pena. Andorinha (tel. 67/3382-3710, www.andorinha.com ) has daily service to São Paulo (16 hours) and frequent buses to Campo Grande (10 hours), Corumbá (7 hours), and other major towns in Mato Grosso do Sul. Cruzeiro do Sul (tel. 67/3312-9700, www.cruzeirodosulms.com.br ) offers bus service to Bonito .