The Pantanal is a vast wetland in South America, located in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, as well as neighboring countries – Paraguay and Bolivia. The total area is about 195,000 square kilometers, which makes this region the largest tropical nature reserve in the world. Here you can observe the rarest species of animals, birds, reptiles and plants. Most of the marshes are located around the Paraguay River, as well as its tributaries. The area got its name from the Portuguese word “pantano”, meaning “wet lowlands.”
A distinctive feature of these places is the ever-changing landscape: in the rainy season this lake is a swamp, most of the land is submerged, in the dry months small islands appear, backwaters and lightly salted lakes. The symbol of the reserve is one of the common species of storks – Jaberu. This large graceful bird has an incredibly large wingspan.
Due to the incredible diversity of relief, as well as the general inaccessibility of the region, a unique animal and plant world has formed here. Thus, in Pantanal, scientists discovered more than 3,500 plant species, more than 1,000 species of butterflies, 650 different birds, more than 100 different mammals. Among the 400 types of aquatic inhabitants, there are endemics, that is, species that live in a very limited range only in this area – freshwater rays, lungfish, and so on.
Many animals whose populations are flourishing here are in danger of extinction in the world: giant anteater, battleship and otter, jaguar, macaw hyacinth, deer of swamps and pampas, Brazilian tapir and many others. In the Pantanal they can be observed in their natural habitat. In different areas of the reserve number of species is very different. To look at the jaguars, it is best to go to the northwest or southeast, since it is there that most of the giant capybara rodents live, which these large cats hunt. Unlike the Amazon jungle, there is plenty of open space to freely observe animals.
Pantanal National Park itself is the pearl of the South American continent due to its rare natural diversity. In addition, there are several spectacularly beautiful waterfalls, rivers and other natural attractions. So, in the Pantanal is the cave Aroe Yari, which extends into the bowels of the earth for 800 meters and is the second largest in Brazil. Inside it can be seen unusually picturesque waterfalls.
Tourists are also waiting for the refreshing waters of the charming blue lagoon of Lagua Azul. Another local attraction is the cascading waterfalls of Martin, falling in the form of stairs. Be sure to visit the City of Stone, where the natural rocks due to its own texture and constant weathering have become like the ruins of ancient structures.
Features of the stay
Strictly speaking, the Pantanal is several zones protected by the state, including the nature reserve of the same name. The largest city from which most tourist trips are made is Corumba.
There is a conditional division into the southern and northern parts of the reserve. The first is wilder, there are relatively few tourists here, the infrastructure is poorly developed, but the colors of the wild nature are rampant. The northern part is more adapted for travelers, there are special hotels (lodges) harmoniously incorporated into the wild nature. An overwhelming number of visitors to the reserve comes here as part of organized groups. The cost of the finished program includes meals, services of a professional guide, accommodation. The duration of the tour varies from a couple of days to a week.
You can get here as an individual visitor, but the Pantanal belongs to the reserves of the closed type. In Brazil, this means that local management and employees are not responsible for you. Due to the large number of wild animals, including dangerous predators, a solitary visit can be life threatening, not to mention the fact that in vast areas with varying topography, a traveler can simply get lost.
The most successful period for the trip is from May to October. In these months, there is little rainfall in Pantanal, the weather is fine, and the terrain shows its diversity. For those who want to watch it for the birds, it is worth coming in April-May, when the swamp is gradually turning into separate lakes and puddles. At this time, the fish falls into a kind of shallow water traps, which attracts birds.