Monday, July 23, 2007

Eco tour Campo Grande – Bonito – Miranda (2/2)

See here for part 1

We had rented a Volkswagen Gol (aka Golf) for our tour from Campo Grande to Bonito to Miranda and back, respectively 295 km (5 hours) 154 km (4 hours) and 234 km (4 hours). The stretch from Bonito to Miranda was rough terrain, especially for a Volkswagen Gol and not surprisingly the few cars we met during our journey were all pick-ups. But even though we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere sometimes, at every gas station, however remote, we were able to take ethanol for our car. Our car was Brazilian built and Total Flex, which means it ran both fuel and ethanol, and in any mixture. This made quite an impression on me, especially as the first ethanol pump in my home country (The Netherlands) was opened just last year. As I already mentioned here ethanol can be considered sustainable in particular because it is less polluting than other bio fuels like bio diesel produced out of soy. The only concern is that sugar cane for ethanol production could contribute to the further destruction of the Amazon, especially now the Lula governement has announced it wants to be a world leader and -exporter in ethanol production. Let’s just hope sugar cane production won’t have the same effect on the Amazon as soy production had.

In Miranda we stayed at a farm that was specialized in eco tourism. It was surrounded by 4000 hectares of wetland with a rich population of passaros (birds), arara’s (papagaios), jacare’s (kaimans) sucuri’s (anaconda’s) aranja’s (spiders), ariranja’s (giant otters), capivara’s and macaco’s (apes). It is interesting to see many of the animal names are indians names that are still in use. One of our guides was of Indian descendent and it was impressive to see how he was able to spot animals miles away and was able to communicate with them.

The history of the farm was quite interesting. The family owning the farm had started about 12 years ago cultivating rice in the Pantanal with money of a government program. But in rain season the water rose, leaving the farm on an island and all the rice paddies in deep water. Soon it became clear the effort of the family was failing and they plummeted into debts, as they had to pay the government money back. Their next try was cattle, but once again the rain spoiled the effort. Almost in despair the third choice of the family became eco tourism and the farm started to prosper. Nowadays the farm on the island is a refuge of tranquility. It is an interesting example on the important role tourism can play in the preservation of nature.


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