Located in the heart of South America, the Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland home to a plethora of animal and bird species. With its flat swampy wetland, it’s arguably the best place in Brazil for viewing wildlife. See jaguars parading along the river banks, families of giant otters frolicking in the rivers and strikingly coloured macaws gliding overhead.
The Pantanal is a water-world of surprises, where wildlife rules the lands and the human footprint is kept to an absolute minimum.
A visit to the Pantanal is a must for anyone with a love for wildlife. Made up of an impressive array of different ecosystems, it’s the perfect environment for wildlife to thrive. Home to over 650 species of birds, hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles and fish; exploring the Pantanal is an unparalleled wildlife refuge of spectacular beauty.
In the months from December to March, tropical rains flood the wetlands submerging the majority of the Pantanal underwater. During this time, many mammals such as jaguar, anteaters, tapir and deer are pushed deeper in to the rainforest, making it hard to see them during these months. Flooded grasslands create a giant influx of colourful fish species and life underwater flourishes. Caiman guard the waters, monkeys chatter in the trees, and hundreds of species of birds flutter from tree top to tree top. In these months, a spectrum of reds and orange fill the sky at sunset, reflecting off the water.
Aquatic plants are in full bloom and sprinkle the lakes and rivers with colour. The landscape at this time is raw, stunning and at its best.
Come April, the floodwater begins to shrink, once again revealing the land. Colourful flowers and wild plants line the floor and crisp blue skies return. Animals congregate around isolated pockets of water and form a parade around the open savannah. During this time, wildlife is in full swing and in the months of July and October, the elusive Jaguar comes out to play offering you the best chance at sighting these incredible creatures first hand.
These wild and hostile seasons has kept human activity to a minimum, meaning the area is perfectly preserved and biologically rich. With the lack of roads and marshy swamp lands, exploring the area is best done on horseback; these horses can guide you in to the most remote areas of the Pantanal. Gliding along the river in dugout canoes or crossing the vast savannah in 4WD also provide an in depth coverage of the area. Between the months of April and November it’s the best time to travel, the weather is dry and the floods have receded; in the wetter months, travelling around is tough and you can be limited to certain areas.
Far away from civilisation the Pantanal can be reached from flying in to either towns of Cuiaba or Campo Grande. Accommodation here is rustic and remote, scattered around the region. From Caiman Ecological refuge in the north to Araras EcoLodge in the south, Imagine Latin America has a fantastic relationship with a number of lodges. From photo safaris, fishing trips or jaguar tracking, whatever your interest, there are few places in the world that offer wildlife viewing as good as the Pantanal.