Brazil’s Pantanal is a vast and important ecosystem of tropical wetland with amazing wildlife including jaguars, hyacinth macaws and giant anteaters.
We had 6 jaguar sightings, two of which were outstanding. The otters (fishing and den cleaning), caiman (eating fish) and capybara (babies and fending off otters) plus the ocelots at St Teresa made for an excellent supporting cast. We enjoyed the fishing for piranha too.
The Pantanal extends into Paraguay and Bolivia but over half of its area is in Brazil. The freshwater wetlands, seasonal floodplains, forests, marshes and islands support abundant wildlife which is relatively easy to observe. Privately-owned cattle ranches, fazendas, occupy much of the land, many of which now welcome guests. Boat and 4x4 safaris can be combined with horse riding, mountain biking and canoeing for added variety, all providing opportunities to enjoy the profuse animal and birdlife.
There’s a wide choice of places to stay from rustic eco-lodges to working ranches, homely pousadas and even a floating hotel.
- Jaguars: These beautiful big cats are the prime attraction, seemingly posing for photos as they rest on the riverbank. Sightings can’t be promised but this is the best place in the world to see them in the wild and if you allow two or three days you are unlikely to be disappointed.
- The supporting cast: With giant river otters, capybaras, armadillos, tapirs, monkeys, maned wolves, caimans, hyacinth macaws and toucans there’s plenty to see, and viewing is easier than in the dense jungle of the Amazon.
- Connect with nature: There aren’t many places on earth where you are surrounded by pristine wilderness, but the Pantanal is certainly one. Nature rules here and wildlife abounds. It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to be here.
- Bonito: Bonito is a grown-up adventure playground. Superbly clear fish-filled rivers are perfect for snorkelling, there are rapids to be rafted, waterfalls to admire, caves complete with stalactites and stalagmites where you can abseil and underground lakes for intrepid divers to explore.
- Seasons: Dry is best for wildlife viewing and for comfort, that’s April to October, with July to September reckoned the very best for wildlife. The rainy season brings floods especially in January and February, making access difficult, and coincides with hotter and more humid conditions. Bonito is best visited from December to March when river levels are highest and waterfalls at their most impressive.