Let's start off the new year with an incredible journey to Middle Earth in Bonito, Brazil: The Abismo de Anhumas Tour
When I was searching for things to do on my trip to Brazil, I came across the town of Bonito in the southwestern corner of Mato Grosso do Sul.
Bonito itself is a very small town and has only one main street but the natural resources of the surrounding area, the 76-sq-km Serra da Bodoquena national park, are spectacular! There are caves with lakes, beautiful waterfalls and incredibly clear rivers surrounded by lush forest where it’s possible for divers and snorkelers to swim eyeball to eyeball with hundreds of colorful fish.
Like Queenstown in New Zealand, Bonito also offers more adventurous tours that I couldn't pass up on. Bonito’s most unforgettable attraction by a landslide is Abismo Anhumas , 20km west of Bonito, it’s a 72m abyss culminating in an underground lake, home to incredible stalactite formations. The tour involves rappelling down to the bottom and snorkeling in the lake (visibility in the water is 30m).
The tour is limited to 18 visitors per day, but I managed to book the tour directly after I arrived in town, the night of the training, without any reservation. The rappelling training center is in town and you must successfully complete your training before 6pm on the day before your visit. The necessary abseiling techniques are learned the day before the tour with the help of specialized instructors, trained to guarantee the safety of the operation.
The training is done the night before because they want to make sure you are able to climb up again at the end of the tour, the next day. People that can't climb up 10 meters in the training center can't do the tour because you are expected to climb up 72m by yourself, the next day.
The transport to the entrance of the cave isn't included in the tour, which I found a bit stupid. So you need to arrange the transport yourself! Luckily I met some nice people during the training who already booked a car and I could come along.
Since they only allow a few people into the cave at any time, you are assigned a certain timeframe to be there. When we arrived, the people in front of us were climbing back up again, with the girl shouting at the guy to "Slide up and PUSH, PUSH!" Apparently the guy got tired in the middle (remember, it's 72m straight up), and because 2 people climb up together, for safety reasons, the girl needed to wait until the guy could climb further and they were hanging there for more than 30 minutes already! Haha!
This is them, making it to the finish:
So, after gearing up, my adventure began with a rappel of 72 meters inside the cavern, toward an immense inside lake with crystal clear water.
The wonder of the abyss is attributed to the diversity of its formations, both in and out of the water. You will float among formations of more than 10 meters high, giving the impression that you floating through a submerged city. It will be a surreal experience! It is also possible to dive in this cave, but divers need to obtain a cave diving license and book the dive in advance. The limit is 4 divers a day! When I was there it wasn't even allowed because the level of the water was too low.
I suggest wearing long sleeves, trousers and tennis shoes with long socks (I know! It's not a fashionable look 😉 but it helps to protect your legs from the ropes while climbing up) for this activity. It’s cold inside the cavern, but you get a wetsuit for the snorkeling. Bring some water and some food and lots of energy for the climb back up! ENJOY!