AQUIDAUANA, 130km from Campo Grande, is a lazy-looking place and very hot, sitting under the beating sun of the Piraputanga uplands. Since the demise of the passenger trains to Corumbá, it sweats somewhat uncomfortably some distance from the main BR-262 highway, and, though it still serves as one of several gateways into the Pantanal, it’s better known for fishing and walking, with some superb views across the swamp. These days, most visitors see little more than the signpost at the crossroads where the highway bypasses the town; if you stop by here, it’ll most likely be to use the highway café or toilet facilities at the junction. If you do go into town or stay over here, it’s worth enquiring about two nearby but seldom visited sites: the ruins of the Cidade de Xaraés, founded by the Spanish in 1580 on the banks of the Rio Aquidauana; and the Morro do Desenho, a series of prehistoric inscriptions on the riverbank and in the nearby hills.

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