Cuiaba

Cuiaba, the capital city of Mato Grosso state, is located in the exact center of South America, and has a population of around 550,000 people. Its name is reputedly derived from an indigenous term for "arrow-fishing".
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Cuiaba Cathedral

It is a regional center of trade, agribusiness, tourism, and culture, famed for its hot, steamy climate, often exceeding 40 degrees celsius. Often termed the "Southern gateway to the Amazon" the town is also ecologically interesting for sitting at the intersection of three distinct Brazilian ecosystems: the Amazon, the Cerrado, and the Pantanal.
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=> It has a rich cultural tapestry of Portuguese, African, and indigenous influences, and also will be one of the 12 cities to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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Activities and Attractions
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The city of Cuiaba offers several interesting museums, but the real tourist draw is ecological excursions into the nearby Pantanal. Start out by checking out the Museu Historico de Mato Grosso, located off the Praca da Republica. Admission is free, and each room represents a different time period, illustrated by various historical odds and ends, and the impressive work of famed local artist Moacyr Freitas.
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If your interested in exploring local indigenous culture, head to Museu Rondon, where you'll find presentations dedicated to the Karaja, Bororo, and Xavante tribes. Admission is free, and the weaponry and head-dresses are definitely sights worth seeing.

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For a slightly more unconventional experience, head over to the Museu Morro da Caixa D'Agua Velha, which houses a bizzare collection of implements and devices related to the use and manipulation of water. More interesting that the actual exhibits are the building itself, which was once the city's water tower, and built as an homage to Roman aqueducts.

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Afterwards, make a brief visit to the Centro Geodesico da America do Sol, which locals claim is the geographic center of the continent. At the Mercado do Porto, you can buy an impressive number of kinds of river fish, as well as a tasty selection of fresh produce and herbs and spices.

=> Cuiaba's Festa da Sao Benedito happens in the first week of July at the Igreja NS do Rosario. It's a great opportunity to check out local dance, culture, and food.

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Accommodation
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Pousadinha Ecoverde
Owned by local wildlife expert Joel Souza, this is a clean and comfortable establishment, with a small kitchen for guest use. Single rooms start at R$25.
Rua Pedro Celestino 391
Tel: 3624 1386
www.ecoverdetours.com.br

Nacional Hotel
This no-frills, moderately-priced hotel is located right by the bus station. Singles start at R$45, while doubles go for R$90.
Rua Jules Rimet 22
Tel: 3621 3277

Hotel Mato Grosso
Among the more high-end options, you will find clean and comfortable rooms at a reasonable price. Singles start at R$80, while doubles go for R$120. You may be able to negotiate a discount during low season.
Rua Comandante Costa 2522
Tel: 3614 7777
www.hotelmt.com.br

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Where to Eat
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While perhaps not the center of fine dining in Brazil, you will find some nice restaurants on Av Getulio Vargas, near the center of town.

Mistura Cuiabana
Head here for the lunch buffet featuring regional foods.
Rua Pedro Celestino and Rua Candido Mariano
Tel: 3624 1127

Pizza na Pedra
Located on the Praca Popular, the big draw here is the pizza rodizio (all you can eat) special, on Tuesday and Thursday for R$28.
Praca Eurico Gaspar Dutra 45
Tel: 3622 0060

Al Manzul
Believe it or not, this is reputed to be the best Arab restaurant in Brazil. It features a smorgasbord of Middle-eastern delicacies.
Av Arquimedes Pereira Lima
Tel: 3663 2237

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Getting There
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Cuiaba Skyline

The Marechal Rondon airport is located only 7km from Cuiaba. There is quick and reliable bus service between the airport and the downtown area, or a taxi will run you around R$30.

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The bus station is located 3km north of the city, but offers limited service to external destinations. Most car rental outfits are located near the airport. Referencia and Localiza come particularly recommended.

Referencia
Tel: 3682 6689

Localiza
Tel: 3624 7979
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