Alta Floresta Travel Guide

Understanding Alta Floresta

Alta Floresta is in the extreme North of Mato Grosso state, 870 km from Cuiabá near the border to Pará.    While Manaus, with its rich culture, and with a history of centuries of colonization & exploitation of natural resources, may be the most popular destination for tourism in the Brazilian Amazon, the city of  Alta Floresta with its pristine tributaries to the Amazon River stands at the edge of immense old-growth rainforests.  It is considered one of the 50 best locations for bird watching in the world.

History of Alta Floresta

Early in the 1970’s when the economy of the Amazon was dominated by the activity of Rubber Plantations, the entrepreneur Ariosto da Riva acquired an immense tract of land in the north of Mato Grosso, with the intent to colonize the area.   Dubbed by the journalist David Nasser as  “O Último Bandeirante” (the last colonist),  the septuagenarian left a secure life in São Paulo to become a pioneer in the Amazon.

Clearing roads through the forest was an arduous task, but with the strength and determination of families coming mostly from the South of Brazil, on May 19th, 1976 the municipality of Alta Floresta was founded as an agricultural community, and received political emancipation on the 18th of December of 1979.  Dubbed by the journalist David Nasser as  “O Último Bandeirante” (the last of the colonists).

On June 3rd 1980, when the president of Brazil, João Figueiredo, visited Alta Floresta he heard Riva say that 'Alta Floresta has the right to be proud to have been the city that in record time - less than four years - became legalized as a municipality, certainly the only city to do this in the history of the Republic'.

Shortly thereafter in the 1980’s, gold fever raged and mining came to predominate the local economy.  The population surged to over 100,000 and just as quickly diminished with the collapse of gold prices, as happened in many new municipalities in the Amazon region.


The relief of the city can be divided into several geomorphological units: 

• Depression

• Amazônia Meridional;

• Apiacás-Sucunrudi Plateau;

• Dissecado da Amazônia Plateu;

• Norte de Mato Grosso Residual Plateaus. 

Flora and Fauna

The first study of the Flora in the Cristalino area of Northern Mato Grosso was conducted by the Cristalino Foundation (link) and the Mato Grosso State University (UNEMAT) in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK between 2008 and 2010.  The area consists of  dense Ombrophilous Forest (Humid Tropical Forest), open Ombrophilous Forest (Open Canopy Tropical Forest),  Semideciduous Tropical Forest and Cerrado.  Within the area there are more than eight types of vegetation creating a rare mosaic of micro ecosystems and biomes within a single region.  The floristic survey catalogued a total of 1,361 species of plants, five of which were new to science.


Each type of vegetation has plants typically associated with those soil, altitude and temperature. And these, in turn, are related to the kinds of birds, mammals, insects and other life-forms that typically dwell there, creating micro-ecosystems. For example, certain species of birds sometimes inhabit a specific area where food and shelter unique to that area is to be found, such as the campinarana and the deciduous forest.


Getting There

As Alta Floresta is principally a destination for the well-healed traveller; most visitors arrive by air.  There are flights to Alta Floresta with Azul Airlines departing daily from Cuiaba at 12h35 and returning to Cuiaba from Alta Floresta at 14h15.  Arriving from overseas, it is difficult if not impossible to clear Brazilian Immigration & Customs and fly onward to Cuiaba in time to make the connecting flight to Alta Floresta at 12h35 on the same day.  If Alta Floresta is the first stop on your itinerary, you will probably need to layover in Cuiabá at a hotel such as the Diplomata.  On arrival in Alta Floresta  is possible to go directly from the airport to the Cristalino Jungle Lodge in time for a welcome drink and dinner without any layover.  Many travelers make reservations for Cristalino up to a year in advance; however, flight prices between Cuiaba and Alta Floresta tend to be best approximately two months before the flight date.  After this the price can begin to skyrocket based depending on the number of available seats on the plane.  Alta Floresta can also be reached by bus...

Fees & Permits

There is a mandatory US$ 85 donation to the Cristalino Foundation per person per tour package for those who are staying at the Cristalino Jungle Lodge.  The fee is pre-paid and included in the cost of your tour package.

Getting Around

While the municipality of Alta Floresta is vast, and the Cristalino Jungle Lodge is located in the middle of a 28,167 acre private reserve, an area 30% larger than New York’s Manhattan Island, getting around the urban area of Alta Floresta is simple.  The airport is less than 1 1/2 kilometers (1 mile) from the Floresta Amazônica and Lisboa Palace Hotels, and the entire urban area spans less than 7 km (4 1/2 miles) from north to south and less than 2 km (1 1/2 miles) from east to west.  The city has straight well planned avenues along the periphery and intersecting the city. Most tour packages include pick-up and drop-off at the airport; but, if you have time on your hands, Alta Floresta is one of the simplest you could navigate.  It still holds a little of its rough & ready frontier town character, so the usual safety precautions apply. 

Things to Do & See

For ecological travelers the principal draw to Alta Floresta is the Cristalino Jungle Lodge and  Rio Azul Jungle Lodge in the Southwest Amazon Rainforest.  Most travelers go directly from the airport to the lodges or to the Floresta Amazonica Hotel.  In fact, most foreign travelers never set foot in or even pass by the urban area.  If you find yourself with a layover day, your just curious, and perhaps you can understand at least a little Portuguese, then you might want to visit the Museu de História Natural de Alta Floresta.

Av. Ariosto da Riva, 3075, Centro

Alta Floresta/MT - Brasil - CEP 78580-000

Tel: (66) 3521 9555


Food & Drink


Lanchonete Brasil - Jd Primavera - Fone: (66) 3501-1051 

Lanchonete Caione - Rua Emílio Caione, 233 - St A - Fone: (66) 3521-3625 


Petiscaria e Pizzaria Paola - Av Ariosto Riva, 2905 - Fone: (66) 3521-5555 


 Churrascaria Locatelli - Rod MT 208, s/n – Centro - Fone: (66) 3521-4902 

 Lanchonete e Churrascaria Rocha - Rua F, 140 - St F - Fone: (66) 3521-3025 


Estoril Hotel e Restaurante - Av Leste, 2950 - St F - Fone: (66) 3521-3298 

Hotel e Restaurante Luz Divina - Av Ludovico Riva Neto, 2098 - St - Fone: (66) 3521-2022 


Lisboa Hotel e Restaurante - Av Aeroporto, s/n - St C - Fone: (66) 3521-2876 


Restaurante e Lanchonete Casa Nova- Rua A Z, 28 - Centro - Fone: (66) 3521-7693 


Restaurante Rangus - Rua D, 4 – Centro - Fone: (66) 3521-1663 

Where to stay

Staying Safe in

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