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The Pantanal

The Pantanal is an immense floodplain in the middle of the South American continent which is, in fact, a vast alluvial plain. This is, by far, the best place in Brazil to see wildlife. The Pantanal is about half the size of France, some 230,000 sq. km. (88,000 sq. miles) and spreads across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, of which a total area of around 130,000 sq. km. (50,000 sq. miles) is located in Brazil.

Map of the Pantanal

The Pantanal is located in the Matto Grosso area of Brazil

Pantanal Arial view

The Pantanal Climate

The climate is tropical and humid with temperatures between 7ºC (45ºF) (evening and nights during winter time) to 40ºC (104ºF) (day time) with an average temperature of 24ºC (75ºF). September and October are the driest months. Between these two periods, the lakes become a perfect ecological niche for a great number of birds, reptiles, and other animals, much to the delight of wildlife watchers and photographers.



The Pantanal, which long ago was a sea, is made up of lowlands flooded by the Paraguay River and its tributaries. These waters fertilize the land, revitalizing it and giving birth to wild flowers and vegetation in abundance. It is the biggest natural fish breeding ground in the world, with the most important species being the dorado (Salminus maxillosus), surubim (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum) and surubim-pintado (Pseudoplatystome coruscans). The infamous piranha also inhabit the waters of the Pantanal. There are close to 600 bird species, making this a paradise for ornithologists and bird watchers. The local fauna also includes caimans, deer, capybara (the world’s largest rodent), anteaters, porcupines, jaguars, tapirs, pumas, and monkeys.

The Pantanal awaking

Pantanal waterways

The landscape of the Pantanal changes radically throughout the year due to its geographic and climatic characteristics. The fauna also changes, remaining in place or migrating for shelter, nests, or food, according to the existing conditions. There are two seasons in the Pantanal: the rainy season (October-March) and the dry season (April-September). Global changes in climate also affect the cycles in the Pantanal and there has been an alteration in the length and intensity of the seasons. In spite of these variations, the general characteristics of each season remain constant.
The Amazon may attract more attention and tourists, but the Pantanal is a better place to see wildlife. In the rainforest, animal life is concentrated in the boreal canopy, which makes it more difficult to observe. The Pantanal is the largest freshwater floodplain on earth, and while sustaining a huge biodiversity, it is a relatively flat plain. The annual floods and subsequent dry period triggers much the same animal behavior as in the great migration routes of Africa. This makes spotting wildlife easy because where there is water, there will be wildlife. This is certainly true of the Pantanal, and our tours there highlight the variety of the region. More than just wildlife, however, the Pantanal has influenced the colorful culture of the pantaneiro.