Pantanal in Mato Grosso

The Pantanal is one of the world’s largest wetlands, primarily located in Brazil, and is an extraordinary tourist destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. With its rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and unique local culture, the Pantanal offers an unforgettable ecotourism experience.

The Pantanal in Mato Grosso is the best place in South America to see and photograph wildlife.

Sure, everyone has heard of the Amazon, but it’s hard to spot wildlife in a tropical rainforest.

In contrast, the Pantanal Matogrossense is a rich and diverse mix of wetlands, grasslands and forests, providing greater wildlife watching opportunities.

The region also has a better infrastructure – with transport, accommodation and everything you need to make the most of your stay.

The Pantanal of Mato Grosso is the largest tropical wetland in the world and has the highest concentration of wildlife in the Americas.

It covers the territory of several Brazilian states and runs through neighbouring Bolivia and Paraguay – with a total area half the size of France.

Only a small fraction of this territory is a protected reserve.

Most of the land is occupied by private cattle ranches, which have been operating in the region for 250 years and, for the most part, remain in balance with the region’s natural environment.

The Pantanal is home to more than 600 species of birds, 350 species of fish, 135 species of mammals and around 80 species of reptiles.

Wildlife includes macaws, caimans, giant anteaters, anacondas, jaguars, pumas and monkeys.

This is why the region is a favourite with wildlife photographers and documentarians.

A visit to the Pantanal in Mato Grosso is a memory that will stay with you, as it’s like stepping into the middle of your own wildlife documentary.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the region was heavily exploited for hunting and as a source of animal skins and other natural products.

However, the Pantanal’s wildlife is now legally protected.

Tourism (and visiting it) is the best way to ensure that wildlife and the environment continue to be protected in the future.

Here is a detailed guide on tourism in the Pantanal

Regions of the Pantanal

The Pantanal is generally divided into two main regions:

  • Northern Pantanal: Primarily accessed through the city of Cuiabá in the state of Mato Grosso.
  • Southern Pantanal: Primarily accessed through the city of Campo Grande in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Main Attractions and Activities

1. Wildlife Observation

  • Diverse Fauna: The Pantanal is home to an incredible variety of animals, including jaguars, hyacinth macaws, capybaras, giant anteaters, caimans, and hundreds of bird species.
  • Photo Safari: Safari tours in 4×4 vehicles, boats, or on horseback are popular for observing and photographing wildlife in their natural habitat.

2. Boat Tours

  • Rivers and Lakes: Navigating the Pantanal’s rivers and lakes is an excellent way to see local wildlife and appreciate the landscape. Sunrise or sunset boat tours are particularly enchanting.
  • Sport Fishing: The Pantanal is known for its sport fishing, especially for golden dorado and catfish.

3. Hiking and Trails

  • Guided Walks: Many farms and lodges offer guided hikes on trails, where visitors can explore the local flora and fauna.
  • Sunset Hikes: Sunset hikes are especially popular, offering breathtaking views and opportunities to observe animals active at dusk.

4. Horseback Riding

  • Horseback Riding: Riding a horse is a traditional way to explore the Pantanal. Many places offer horseback tours that allow visitors to reach areas inaccessible by other means.

5. Birdwatching

  • Bird Diversity: The Pantanal is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 650 bird species recorded, including toucans, herons, spoonbills, and the iconic jabiru stork.
  • Bird Guides: Many lodges offer specialized birdwatching guides who can help identify and learn more about the various species.

Lodges and Farms

1. Pousada Rio Mutum (Northern Pantanal)

  • Offers photo safaris, boat tours, and horseback riding. It is known for excellent wildlife observation and comfort.

2. Araras Eco Lodge (Northern Pantanal)

  • Famous for its commitment to sustainability and rich program of activities, including birdwatching and trails.

3. Fazenda San Francisco (Southern Pantanal)

  • A combination of ecological and agricultural tourism, offering safari tours, trails, and opportunities to learn about rural life in the Pantanal.

4. Caiman Ecological Refuge (Southern Pantanal)

  • One of the most renowned eco-lodges, with diverse activities and conservation projects, including the Onçafari Project focused on jaguar preservation.

Best Time to Visit

  • Dry Season (May to September): The best time for wildlife observation, as animals concentrate around the remaining water areas. Temperatures are milder, and roads are more accessible.
  • Wet Season (October to April): During the rainy season, the Pantanal transforms into a vast flooded plain, creating incredible landscapes and attracting migratory birds. Some areas may be inaccessible due to flooding.

Visitor Tips

  • Appropriate Clothing: Wear lightweight and comfortable clothing that covers your body for protection against insects. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential.
  • Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes are common, especially at dawn and dusk, so bring a good repellent.
  • Photography Equipment: Bring binoculars and cameras with long-range lenses to capture wildlife.
  • Hydration and Snacks: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and bring light snacks for excursions.

How to Get There

  • Northern Pantanal: The main gateway is the city of Cuiabá, from where you can take land transport to lodges and farms.
  • Southern Pantanal: Campo Grande is the main access point, followed by land transport to tourist areas.

The Pantanal offers a unique nature experience where biodiversity and local culture intertwine to create an unforgettable adventure.

Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast, nature photographer, or simply seeking tranquility and natural beauty, the Pantanal has something special to offer.

Onça-Pintada no Pantanal Matogrossense
Pantanal in Mato Grosso

Northern Pantanal Region

The Northern Pantanal comprises about a third of the total area of the Pantanal. It is remarkably rich in wildlife in the Northern Pantanal, with some areas harboring what is believed to be the largest concentration of jaguars in the world. A drive along the Transpantaneira in the Northern Pantanal […]