Once you’ve seen the avian wonders of the Pantanal and Chapada dos Guimaraes, what better way to put the icing on the cake than a stay at the wonderful Cristalino Lodge which has to be one of the top ten birding lodges in the world!
You need to get from Cuiaba to the town of Alta Floresta where the Cristalino packages commence. They have a sister lodge called Floresta Amazonica in town where you can spend a day or two before and after your stay at Cristalino Lodge. We stayed at both places back in Sept 2012 so I will be doing more detailed photo reviews but for now, let’s just get to Alta Floresta.
CGB – AFL BY AIR
Only one airline is currently serving the Cuiaba – Alta Floresta route – Azul Airlines. You can use you United miles to redeem flights or book them with Visa or Mastercard on the Azul website. Depending on the price (which varies widely on Azul website) you may be better off redeeming the miles or paying with money so do the math!
CUIABA TO ALTA FLORESTA BY BUS
If you are really on a budget, you can travel by overnight bus from Cuiaba to Alta Floresta. It’s not one of the luxe business class buses you see on the Sao Paulo routes but it’s a reasonably comfortable bus and when we did it, it wasn’t full so we could spread out and claim a 2 seat bank each. The good news is that foreigners can now book and pay online. This wasn’t available back in 2012 so we had to waste time going to the bus station and pre-booking the seats.
I recommend the bus that arrives around 6:15am as it gives you time to grab breakfast and walk around the Floresta Amazonica property which is very birdy!
- Start at Busca Onibus to check times and fares. Choose the one you want, click on Info and then click on the link to the bus company’s website.
2. Once at the Verde Transportes website, put in the route as below and your date, click on the orange Pequisar button.
3. In my opinion, the 16:00 departure is best as it gives you more birding time but the 19:00 or 22:00 would get you there in time for the transfer to the Cristalino boat. Click continuar, and put in your name and passport details then choose a seat.
4. After choosing a seat, check that your details are correct and click on Prosseguir button.
5. Click on the USA flag to get a screen in English. They have a chat line if you need help but you probably won’t. There is an option for foreigners, then just fill out the rest of the form, accept the conditions and Captcha, then Complete Your Order and you’re done!
Bus fare is roughly one third the cost of an airline ticket and it does maximize birding time. We spent the morning at Chapada, drove back to Cuiaba, had lunch, returned the car and got a taxi to the bus station in time for the 16:00 bus, then had the morning to walk around Floresta Amazonica before lunch and the transfer to Cristalino which leaves after the Azul flight arrives and all guests are present and ready to go.