Live and eat like a local, and get off the tourist track with our Cuiabá hit list from the host and producer of SBS travel show, This is Brazil!.
By
Fernanda de Paula, Shelley Hepworth

12 May 2014 - 3:21 PM  UPDATED 25 Jun 2015 - 1:43 PM

1. Take up twitching

Cuiabá is the gateway to the Pantanal - the largest wetland on earth. It’s the number one destination in Brazil for bird-watchers and wildlife-lovers, with over 4,000 thousand species of animals and plants making up this magnificent ecosystem. On any visit you’re likely to have unique encounters with caimans, toucans, blue macaws, giant otters and if you’re in luck, the enigmatic jaguar.

 

2. Channel your inner Indiana Jones

The Transpantaneira or Pantanal Park Road was built in the 1970s and crosses the Pantanal. The road links the city of Poconé with Jofre Harbour in the Cuiabá river. It's 147 km long and crosses no less than 122 wobbly wooden bridges. You may travel along it to access one of the lodges offering wildlife tours, but for many it is a destination in itself. When the ditches that line the road are filled with water all sorts of animals come to feed and if you visit at night you may find a giant tarantula walking along beside you.

 

3. Prepare for some Brazilian sizzlin'

Cuiabá is located in the geographical centre of South America and can therefore be considered the heart of the continent. Two thousand kilometres from both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the city sits quite low and the Chapada dos Guimarães mountain range cuts off the breeze making the temperature here either hot or super hot. It’s unusual to have an afternoon when thermometer marks less than 30 degrees. And did we mention how humid it can get? If you’re going to Cuiabá, make sure you pack light fabric clothes and drink lots of the icy cold beer that Brazilians cherish.

 

4. Bust a move on the dancefloor

If you’re looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, hit one of Cuiaba’s nightspots where the locals dance the ‘Lambadão’. A souped up version of the popular lambada, the music and movements are frenetic. The dance is highly sexualised and suffers from some prejudice, but don’t let that stop you from joining in the fun and shaking your booty!

 

5. Head where the hills are alive

The Chapada dos Guimarães National Park is just 60km from Cuiaba. Since it’s set at a significantly higher altitude to the Pantanal you’ll see huge differences in the flora and fauna of area, not to mention the spectacular views from the stunning table-top mountains.

 

6. Where to eat

Choppão (1502 Avenida Presidente Getúlio Vargas)

 

This is Brazil! airs Fridays at 7.30pm on SBS ONE.