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Nestled in the center of South America, the Pantanal is a huge flooded savannah in the interior of Brazil. It is almost unknown in Europe because it is often overshadowed by Amazonian forest and yet… It is a huge swamp of unparalleled richness that provides habitat for thousands of animals.

Brazil, Pantanal - Quati in the forest

Geography and climate

The Pantanal region is located in southwest Brazil and extends over the two states of Mato Grosso (in the north) and Mato Grosso do Sul. Bolivia and Paraguay also host part of the Pantanal. The region is divided into two parts: the South Pantanal and the North Pantanal. Together, they form one of the largest inland wetlands in the world, an area protected by UNESCO since 2000.

The Pantanal has only two seasons: the rainy season from November to March and the dry season from April to October. The choice of the exploration period depends on your interests. April and May are popular with bird lovers. Everything is still flooded and the time is perfect to observe the countless species of birds that come to quench their thirst.

The ideal season for a trip to the Pantanal is probably between June and October/November As the number of water points becomes more and more limited, animals in search of water gather in large numbers around the remaining ones. As the dry season progresses, this phenomenon intensifies and observing a wide variety of animals around these areas becomes akin to animal reporting !

The period between December and March is interesting mainly for sport fishing enthusiasts but animal watching is not made easy by these almost totally flooded lands.

A few words about the Pentanal

A living being of exceptional dimensions

Brazil, Pantanal - Giant AnteaterImagine a territory of about 550 kilometres from north to south and 350 km from east to west with an extraordinarily low gradient of a few centimetres per kilometre. The streams in the basin of the massive Rio Paraguay are quick to flood a territory whose highest relief does not exceed 150 meters.

Often referred to as the “Mecca of ornithologists“, this destination is a magnet for scientists from all over the world who come to study this ecosystem where a multitude of animal species live. The abundant wildlife, endless green fields, a single dirt road often blocked by caimans tanning in the sun, religious silence when you fly over the Hyacinth macaws…Here is a glimpse of this extraordinary region of the Pantanal.

Brazil, Pantanal - Pink trees, deer, great egret, savannahYou can take a “Brazilian safari” to see, not lions or giraffes, but anacondas and jaguars, exceptionally numerous in this part of the world. You will discover the wild and authentic Pantanal by 4 wheel drive. You will stop over and spend your nights in a partially transformed Fazenda, which is used to welcome adventurers.

The region inspires respect and it is this atmosphere of admiration and fascination that impresses its visitors.

Our expertise

Brazil, Pantanal - Pantaneira adventurerDon’t make the mistake of booking a stay in a single fazenda. The Pantanal is immense and each of the regions strategically chosen for their ecosystem has a fazenda that will become your base camp. The vegetation and animals to you can see vary according to the location. An ideal stay in the Pantanal lasts between 4 days (minimum!) and 12 days and is organised around a traveling route.

The fazendas are often close to the Transpantaneira, the famous road that crosses the Pantanal. Between each fazenda, there will be a few hours of transfer but do not imagine falling asleep because driving on the Transpantaneira is an adventure in itself offering fantastic moments of observation. Seeing an anaconda or tapirs on these “transfer safaris” is common. Each fazenda offers a different formula: canoeing for observation from the river, horseback riding for wilderness observation, 4×4 safari for night observation and hiking. To see a jaguar, Brazil’s most famous feline, you have to travel far because it is good at hiding. Only those who reach the end of the Transpantaneira may be lucky enough to see one.

To make the most of animal observation, it is essential to plan several stops in different fazendas. For those who want to extend this discovery of the wilderness even further, there are also other little treasures, perhaps less known, but just as original: Nobres and Bonito for diving in crystal clear fresh water filled with multicoloured fish and Chapada dos Guimaraes for an encouter with the blue and red ara, in the middle of the immense waterfalls.

Why you should visit the Pantanal

During a stay in Brazil, the Amazon is often a priority stopover for nature and animal observation. At Terra Nordeste, we believe that the Pantanal is the ideal destination for this.

While Amazonia offers you a uniquely diverse flora, Pantanal allows you to take a close look at it! This region is not well known and its name is less evocative, but it is the hidden paradise of Latin America for those who love pure nature and the observation of animals in their natural habitat. The wildlife practically unfolds before your eyes and without too much effort. Spending a few days in the Pantanal reveals another life: you will live with the pace of nature, get up very early in the morning to go on an excursion, come out in the morning, have local dishes for lunch, then take a relaxing nap in the afternoon before leaving in the early evening for a night of observation. An excellent opportunity to do a full ” retreat “, far from the life of big cities.

In Pantanal, it is simply impossible to miss wildlife viewing. The encounters are guaranteed as the number of animals is immense (anacondas, tapirs, marsh deer, capybaras, caimans, hyacinth macaws, toucans, giant otters, giant anteater, sloth, pumas, coatis, but also crab-eating foxes, maned wolves, forest hogs or Golden-bellied capuchin… This list is not comprehensive!) The highlight of a visit to the Pantanal, if organized to this end , is the encounter with the jaguar: a magical moment, a special moment that will remain in your memory for the rest of your life.

For a perfectly balanced stay, combine it with a few days at Nobres and Chapada dos Guimaraes.

Brazil, Pantanal - Jacare Crocodile
Brazil, Pantanal - Cowboy and horses race Pantaneira

To go further…

Read the description of Pantanal that Jean-Paul Delfino gives us in our “Travel diaries” section : terra-nordeste.com/en/pantanal-seen-by-jean-paul-delfino/