The Buraco das Araras (Macaw’s sink-hole) is the largest sink-hole it South America. It is 160 meters wide and 124 meters deep and 500 meters in circumference. The sink-hole was caused by the erosion of limestone material well beneath the surface and the consequent collapse of the sandstone material that composes the walls and floor of the crater.
It was called Macaw’s sink-hole because of the Green Shouldered Macaws (ara chloropterus) that used the cliffs for their nesting area. In 1986 when Modesto Sampaio bought the 100 hectare ranch to support his family by raising a small number of cattle there were no Macaws living there any more. At the time he was the brunt of many jokes by his fellow ranchers who said that he had purchased a property with an enormous defect: it had a giant hole in it. The crater served at the time as a rubbish dump inhabited by vultures; and, as legend had it, was full of dead bodies. When eco-tourism became popular in the region, Sampaio resolved to clean up the sink-hole and create a tourist attraction. He also released a captive pair of Green-shouldered Macaws who left after a short time, but came back and consequently attracted a large number of wild Macaws who after a screaming battle succeeded in kicking out the vultures. Modesto then registered his property as a Natural Heritage Private Reserve and opened the Buraco das Araras to tourism.
The area includes a visitor’s centre, walkways and lookout points. In addition to over 50 pairs of Green-shouldered Macaws, there are over 125 documented bird species that frequent the property. Buraco das Araras is one of the most popular attractions in the Bonito Region.
Tours & Excursions:
The Buraco das Araras is best visited in the early morning or the late afternoon. The general tour lasts about an hour. The tour is accompanied by a guide with a maximum group size of 10 persons. There is a 900 meter trail through Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna) Biome. In addition to the hour long tour, there is a full-day and half day option for bird watchers & photographers. There are over 125 catalogued species in the Buraco das Araras Bird list.
Distance, Location & Transport:
Buraco das Araras is 53 km from downtown Bonito in the municipality of Jardim principally by way of dirt roads that can be precarious during rainy periods and especially during flooding. It is only 5 km from Rio da Prata and Lagoa Misteriosa. For these reasons we suggest combining Buraco das Araras in the early morning or late afternoon with a visit to Lagoa Misteriosa and Rio da Prata during the day where you can have a delicious lunch. For a general-interest tour you can combine snorkelling or diving at Rio da Prata & Lagoa Misteriosa with the hour-long tour at Buraco das Araras. Bird watchers can combine a half day birdwatching tour at Buraco das Araras with a half day at Rio da Prata. Photographers can combine a half day at Buraco das Araras with either the half day birdwatching & photography option at Rio da Prata & Lagoa Misteriosa or consider a snorkeling or diving option in the case that they are interested in underwater photography. For those utilizing private transportation, consider this tour for either your first, or perhaps last day in the region as there is a different, well paved road to & from Campo Grande from Jardim where the attractions are located that doesn’t require you to repeat twice the 53 km stretch of road that takes you directly from Bonito to Jardim. Pantanal Expeditions offers shared van service to Lagoa Misteriosa, Rio da Prata & Buraco das Araras several days per week as well as private transport from Bonito with an English-speaking driver. Consult us for the prices & schedule during your travel dates.
“These macaws changed my life. Before them, I was just a solitary cowhand. Today I create jobs and meet people from all over the world; twenty-thousand tourists visit annually. The macaws sustain the family without destroying the environment. I can now leave something I am proud of for my grandchildren” -Modesto Sampaio