Touring Brazil: Cuiaba, Mato Grosso

cuiaba hje


Today’s blog post is about a city in Brazil a lot of people don’t know much about, Cuiaba in the state of Mato Grosso. I am excited to have Jorge Zanata write this post not only because he is from there but also because he is the latest addition to the OpenPath team. In this post Jorge will talk about his hometown of Cuiaba and going forward you will hear more from him on sports related events since he is our Sports Expert. More about that later.

Before we learn about Cuiaba, here’s a little bit about Jorge. Enjoy!

Jorge Zanata, born in Diamantino, Mato Grosso, graduated with a degree of Business Administration from Texas A&M International University and is currently an MBA student at Kennesaw State University. Jorge has lived in California and Texas before coming to Georgia. His main professional experiences include a position as Investment Advisor in an independent investment company in Cuiaba, Brazil, and an HR Assistant position within a pharmaceutical company in Curitiba, also in Brazil, where he contributed to the development of some HR projects. Jorge is fluent in Portuguese and English. Fanatic for sports, Jorge is very excited with the oncoming sports events and business opportunities Brazil will keep offering in the next years. Jorge has recently joined the OpenPath Solutions’ team as the Brazil Sports Experts where he will write guide and advise readers and clients on the best investment opportunities in the sports field in Brazil. Welcome to the team, Jorge!

Jorge Zanata


Cuiaba is the capital of the Mato Grosso state, and is located exactly in the middle of South America. According to 2010 Brazilian demographic studies, the city population is about 550,000. When including its neighbor Varzea Grande, the overall population goes up to about 800,000.


Cuiaba was created in 1719, and until today no one knows exactly the meaning and origin of its name. Several versions and theories have been created about the name, but none is completely proved to be true. What is known is that the name comes from local Indian origins. The strongest version for the name states Cuiaba comes from the Bororo’s “IKUIA,” which means “arrow-fishing.”

Building of Cuiaba

For a long time Cuiaba was a “forgotten” place in Brazil mainly because of the transportation difficulties and distance from major capitals such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other southern states. Two factors helped the town to start increasing its population in the 1960’s: the opportunity of land for agriculture and cattle creation, and the creation of Brasilia in the same region (the distance from Cuiaba to Brasilia is about 650 miles.)

Nowadays, Cuiaba is a major business attraction area especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism, hospitality, and construction industries. Agriculture is a major source of the state’s GDP, and the tourism and construction industries are growing a lot because of the 2014 World Cup, which Cuiaba will be one of the host cities. In addition to this major event, Cuiabá will be in the spotlight in 2013 since “Estação Primeira de Mangueira,” one of the biggest and well-known “escolas de samba” (samba school) from Rio de Janeiro has chosen Cuiaba as its theme.

As major investments are being made in the city and the state, there are many business opportunities going on in Cuiabá. The stadium is a very interesting project and was declared “environmentally-friendly” because of its special water re-use system. Another major investment will be on the public transportation system. A train system will be implemented to meet the needs of all visitors and “cuiabanos.”

Other major areas, such as agri-business and hospitality services, offer great investment opportunities in Cuiabá and the state of Mato Grosso. Agri-business opportunities are due to it being an important portion of the state’s GDP, and hospitality because of the coming 2014 World Cup.

2014 World Cup Stadium in Cuiaba

As all over Brazil, the “cuiabanos,” how people born in Cuiabá are called, are very warm and want to help everyone enjoy their city.

Tourism and night life

Cuiaba’s night life is exciting and offers club events from Wednesday to Sunday. Besides a great variety of bars and clubs, there are several quality restaurants where one can enjoy from Italian, to Arabian, to local types of food, etc.  Some good places to go are the “Praça Popular,” and Chapada dos Guimarães restaurants.

Cuiaba night life

Even though there are many restaurant varieties in Cuiabá, the “cuiabanos” like and appreciate a lot the local culinary dishes, such as fish, “farofa de banana” (fried banana with yuca flour), “galinhada com pequi” (rice with chicken and pequi, a regional fruit), sweet rice cake (called “bolo de arroz”), and many others.

Arroz com pequi

Bolo de Arroz (rice cakes)

When talking about tourism, Cuiaba is the gateway to the main touristic attractions of the Mato Grosso state. About forty miles from there is located the city of Chapada dos Guimarães, which is also a National Park with many different touristic points. Waterfalls, caves, rocks formation, cave lakes, and many other natural attractions are part of the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park.

Chapada dos Guimaraes


Another good spot to know around Cuiabá is the Pantanal, which is the biggest wetland in the world, and is about 120 miles away from Cuiaba. The Pantanal region is one of the main touristic attractions of Mato Grosso, and offers a great variety of hotels, activites (such as fishing, kayaking, etc), eco-tourism activities, etc.

Tuiuiu, a typical bird from Pantanal

A third interesting touristic point is the city of Nobres, which is located about 100 miles away from Cuiabá. Nobres also offers a great variety of eco-tourism attractions. Scuba diving, cave lakes, and fishing are just some of the activities that tourists can find in Nobres.

Nobres, Blue Lagoon



Cuiaba basically has two different seasons during the year. From October to March, it is characterized by the rains, and from March to October by the very dry season, in which air humidity can be lower than 20%. The average temperature is about 25 Celsius (77F) but it can reach up to or more than 40 Celsius (104F), and as low as 10 Celsius (50F) during winter. Cuiaba has the nickname of “hell city” because of its major hot and dry days throughout the year.

I am sure there are many other things to talk about Cuiabá, but these are the main points that make this city a very unique place in the middle of the “cerrado” and South America. For fun or for business, Cuiabá is a place one must know and enjoy.


OpenPath Solutions provides cross cultural consulting, coaching, and training services to organizations doing business in Brazil.  Contact us to let us know how we can help you with your success.

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  1. Elaine Vieira says:

    Great post! I didn’t have the oportunity to visit Cuiaba yet but will include in my ‘must go’ list. Bravo, Jorge Zanata!

  2. Wilka says:

    Lovely informative post! Very glad to read about my hometown. Thank you Jorge! I’m a “Cuiabana” in NYC, leaving the dream.