Cuiaba (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Cuiabá is a host city not to be overlooked by visitors when traveling to Brazil for the World Cup. In the 20th century, this gold-mining city drastically grew from 57,000 to 544,737 residents in 30 years. Today, the city’s 3 ecosystems (the wetlands of the Pantanal; the savannas of the Cerrado; and the Amazon), are treasured by locals and tourists. The city offers visitors magnificent opportunities to immerse themselves in nature, whether it be waterfalls, rivers, plateaus, or miles and miles of beautiful green landscape.

Cuiabá, The City of Picturesque Countryside
One of the many spots to hike and explore in Cuiabá is the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park (Parque Nacional Chapada dos Guimarães), a UNESCO World Heritage site located a few miles outside of the city. This enormous natural park gives people a place to go and explore the large orange and red-rock formations via guided hikes with varying levels of difficulty. Along the hike, visitors to the park see caves, canyons and beautiful outlooks.

Photo Courtesy of Embratur

Travelers looking to plan an adventurous day trip should hike the Circuito das Cachoeiras trail. It is a breathtaking hike that leads to 7 waterfalls where people can take a dip and have a day full of outdoor adventures and explorations. Admission is free to the natural park, but people must plan ahead and schedule a tour with a registered tour group no later than 11:30 a.m. the day of the trip. The guided tour takes visitors to the 7 waterfalls, including Sete de Setembro, Hidromassagem, Degrau and Parinha. The largest falls are Andorinhas and Independencia. The guided tour ends at the Casa de Pedra cave, which once served as a refuge for runaway slaves.

The Morro de Sao Jeronimo at the national park is a challenge very few hikers accept. Because of its high level of difficulty, approximately 30 visitors hike Morro de Sao Jeronimo each day. This trail — consisting of few hills — is a 4-mile hike led by a professional tour guide. Tired hikers who make it to the top are rewarded with one of the most scenic views, overlooking the verdant landscape and the city’s skyline. For intermediate hikers, Vale do Rio Claro has trails that run along huge sandstone cliffs and lead to 360-degree views of the valley.

Wonder Back in Time
After a day of soccer tournaments, you can spend some time in the afternoon to walk the streets and admire the charm of Cuiabá’s historic center (Centro Historico). Since the 1720s, the streets in this area have been preserved in their original state, which was around the same time when gold was discovered on the riverbanks, Rio Prainha. Nearby, tourists should visit the Rondon Museum (Museu Rondon do Indio) to learn about the various indigenous groups who existed in Cuiabá for ages. The museum is named after indigenous rights activist Marechal Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon.

Photo Courtesy of Embratur

Cuiabá is a city that was founded by Brazilian frontiersmen in search of gold and precious stones in the province of Mato Grosso. The Pedras Ramis Bucair Museum (Museu de Pedras Ramis Bucair) features exhibits of these rocks, minerals, semi-precious stones and archeological artifacts, dating back to the time of the Western Gold Rush. This museum also has fossils of dinosaurs like a tyrannosaurus’s femur dating back to about 100 million years.

The Church Rosario e Sao Benedito (Igreja do Rosario e Sao Benedito) is a big tourist attraction in Cuiabá that was built by slaves in the 18th century. The National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage made it a cultural landmark. The Sesc Casa do Artesao is another great place to visit. This was an old school transformed into a craftsman workshop. The renovated school displays local artisan pieces. Visitors can buy handmade wooden crafts, indigenous works and recycled jewelry made from seeds and clay beads.

Join the Locals
Locals known as “Cuiabános” enjoy leisure activities, and spending as much time as they can fishing in the river and being out in nature. While in Cuiabá, visitors should keep an open mind to tasting dishes made with fresh catch from the river — a major staple of traditional meals in the city. The best dishes to try are those that incorporate the city’s specialty river fish like ventrecha de pacu, piraputanga, file de pintado and mojica de pintado. The adventurous eater can also try alligator, which is served in a handful of restaurants in Cuiabá. For the conservative eater, try Cuiabá’s famous sweet marmalades called furrundu. Another tasty dish is Maria Izabel with rice, meat jerky, carrots, peas, olives, corn and pepper.

When it comes to the nightlife, the locals love country music. The neighborhood named Popular is the flashy area of the city. It is here that the majority of the city’s bars are located. Visitors looking to interact with locals should head down to the Avenidas Isaac Póvoas and Getúlio Vargas neighborhoods for a night out dancing. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes because, if you enjoy dancing, prepare to be out until the early morning.

– By the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur)


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7 Responses

  1. DBCoop says:

    Cuiaba is one of those places that time almost forgot, at least until the transportation and communication infrastructure was vastly improved in the past several decades. For that reason alone it deserves a place on my travel bucket list, a list that forever gets longer with each intriguing destination.

    Set smack in the middle of South America, forget the sophistication and glamour of coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro. You will, however, find a diverse ethnic mix of Portuguese, African and Native Americans with an exotic blend of cultures old and new.

    Like much of the country of Brazil, the climate is tropical; hot and humid most days with a long season of ample rains from September through May.

    Lodging is also more modest than can be found in the metropolitan centers such as Rio de Janeiro or Brasilia, but for a most reasonable rate I think I'd find the five-star Hotel Gran Odara well suited to a stay of several days or longer.

    This top-ranked hotel offers a rooftop pool, an excellent restaurant with locally derived and fusion-inspired dishes, spa services and a modern gym to comfort guests along with spacious and stylishly upscale rooms.

    Whether it's for the natural beauty of the lush countryside that surrounds this former gold-mining center or as a host city for all the excitement of World Cup 2014, I have to say thanks to the folks at the Travel Channel blog for yet another travel adventure revealed.

  2. davewood says:

    I can only wish at this point. Although I had the good fortune to see the great Pélé play live when he brought his club side on a world tour following his Brazil's win in the 1970 World Cup. Travel Channel: push, flaunt, highlight the World Cup in your programming! (of course I was only a small child at the time…)

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  6. Jim Landman says:

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