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All you need to know when travelling to Pantanal

When travelling to Pantanal you want to be well prepared for the trip. Therefore we share with you the most frequently asked questions from our clients when visiting the Northern Pantanal, Brazil.

What is the Pantanal

The Pantanal is the largest floodplain in the world. The floodplain covers 230.000 squire kilometres (88.000 sq miles) which compares to half the size of France. The Pantanal spreads across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraquay.

The part located in Brazil covers 130.000 squire kilometres. The Pantanal is a UNESCO heritage site since the 24th of May 1993.

Where is the Pantanal located?

The Pantanal consist of a Northern and Southern part. The Northern part of the Brazilian Pantanal is located in the state Mato Grosso. It is in the middle of Brazil. As can be seen on the below map. The Southern part is located in the State of Mato Grosso do sul.

Map of the pantanal

Best time to visit the Pantanal

The dry-season starting around mid-May till mid-November is the best time to visit the Pantanal. During the dry-season the water levels in Pantanal are low and temperatures are high. These conditions create unique opportunities to spot and photograph wildlife around waterholes and the riverbanks. Due to the drought the roads are good to travel and there are very few mosquitos.

The wet season (mid-November till April) is the time of year in which it is difficult to access the Pantanal and spot wildlife. Within the wet season 80% of the Pantanal is flooded with water. It is truly unique that the landscape chances drastically due to the seasonal cycles in Pantanal. The flooding’s are the source for all Flora and Fauna to thrive throughout the year.

Pantanal Climate

The Pantanal averages annual rainfall of 1,000-1,400 mm (39-55 inches).

The average temperature in the Pantanal is 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). Visitors need to be aware that the temperatures may fluctuate from 7 to 45 degrees C (45 to 104 degrees F). The best time of year to visit is from July to November, which is the dry season.

Pantanal climate chart

How to Travel to the Northern Pantanal?

When travelling to the northern Pantanal you have to fly to Cuiaba (Marechal Rondon International Airport). Most easy is to transfer from an international flight via Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Brasilia on your domestic flight to Cuiaba.

From Cuiaba it takes around 1.5 hours’ drive to the city of Poconé. The city of Poconé is the gateway to the Pantanal. Driving to the Pantanal we will transition from a paved road to a dirt road, also known as the Transpantaneira road.  The Transpantaneira road covers 147 KM towards Porto Jofre. During the 147KM you will cross 122 wooden bridges. Since 2018 the government started to replace some of the wooden bridges by concrete bridges.

Along the Transpantaneira road you find all lodges. Most lodges are basic but offer a good service and have an abundance of wildlife around the lodge.  

How to travel to the southern Pantanal?

Fly from Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or other airports to Camp Grande. From Campo Grande drive by car to Bonito or Jardim, depending what location for wildlife you are visiting. On average you will need 3.5 – 5 hours from Campo Grande by car to arrive in Jardim (3.5 hours) or Bonito (4.5 hours).

When travelling from the Northern Pantanal there are three options to travel to south

  1. A domestic flight from Cuiaba to Campo Grande
  2. Night bus from Cuiaba to Campo Grande
  3. Bush flight from Porto Jofre or Pocone directly to lodges in the South for instance; Aguape or Branco Alto.

Which airlines fly to Pantanal?

The best airlines to use are GOL, Azul and Latam. GOL has many international partners, making it possible to benefit from your mileage program. From Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro all airlines offer daily flights to Cuiaba.

Do you need vaccinations when visiting the Pantanal

When travelling to Brazil and Pantanal there are no required vaccinations, however the Yellow fever vaccination is strongly advised. Besides Yellow fever many travelers are advised to have a DTP and Hepatitis A vaccination as well. If you are planning to stay for a long period of time in Brazil (>3 months), it is also advised to protect for Hepatitis B and Rabies. Always consult your doctor when planning to travel and ask advise on which vaccinations are needed.

Malaria in Pantanal?

In Pantanal there is no risk of Malaria. Therefore there is no need to take Malaria medication. However we strongly advise to always consult your doctor when planning to travel and ask advise on which vaccinations/medicines are needed.

Wildlife of the Pantanal

The Pantanal has an abundance of wildlife. It inhabits over 620+ species of birds including iconic species such as the Hyacinth macaw, Blue- and Yellow macaw, Tucan, Chest-eared aracari, Jabiru stork, black skimmer, black color hawk, great hawk, red-legged seriema, sungrebe, Anhinga, roadside hawk, monk parakeet and many more.

Besides the enormous variety of birdlife the Pantanal is famous of  wildlife species such as the Jaguar, Tapir, Giant anteater, southern tamandua, giant river otters, capibara and jacare caiman.

Big five of Pantanal:

  1. Jaguar
  2. Tapir
  3. Giant river otter
  4. Giant Anteater
  5. Jabiru stork

Lodges in the Northern Pantanal

Along the Transpantaneira highway are several lodges where you can stay 1 or more days to enjoy the Pantanal. We listed a few of the lodges and continue to add lodges and the most recent information about the lodges. By clicking the link you will visit the detailed information page of the specific lodge.

Hotel Norte, located at Porto Jofre.

Porte Jofre Camping, located at Porto Jofre

Santa Tereza lodge, located 70 km from Pocone along the Transpantaneira road (right side)

Piuval Lodge, located 8km from Pocone at the beginning of the Pantanal

Pouso Alegre lodge, 30 Km from Pocone on the right side of the Transpantaneira road

Differences between Amazon and Pantanal

Both areas are truly unique and stunning to visit. They are not to be compared due to the significant differences seen from a geographical perspective. Where the Amazon is characterized by dense rainforest the Pantanal is flat and open. Viewed from a wildlife spotting or photographer perspective it is much easier to spot and photograph wildlife in the Pantanal then it is in the Amazon. To decide what would be the best for you, check the following statement:

Travel to Pantanal if:

1. You are into birding and bird photography (620+ species), of which many iconic species (Hyacinth macaw, tucans, jabiru, red-legged seriema, aracaris and many more) can be easily seen and photographed
2. Spot and photograph the jaguar. In Pantanal you have the highest density of jaguars in the world.
3. Explore the world’s largest wetland by boat and car.

Travel to Amazon if:

1. You are interested in exploring jungle trackings.
2. Witness the ‘meeting of the waters’, where two rivers collide.
3. If your main interest are specific species of Amazon such as the pink dolphins.
4. If you would like to visit native Amazon tribes (culture).

Related articles:

11 facts about the Pantanal

Jaguar photography in Pantanal

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