Why go to the Pantanal in Mato Grosso?

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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 rainforest.

It starts with a mistake. The Pantanal is not a swamp, as the name suggests.

The Pantanal is an immense plain, flooded for part of the year; it is the “largest wetland on the planet”, as tourist brochures and manuals advertise.


And it’s a world apart, with its codes, its language, its rhythm – and a richness that no brochure can summarize.

If it’s impossible to summarize, neither is it easy to understand the Pantanal.

When you arrive, it presents itself as a region without limits, with fluid contours, immune to any attempt at containment.

The Pantanal of Mato Grosso has two commonly used divisions:

Each division with its small sub-pantanal – these are attempts to grasp and impose some rationality on the great floodplain.

On closer inspection, however, one realizes that the Pantanal has its own logic and time, entirely subordinated to the cycle of the waters and the succession of seasons: see, but the rains and the floods, then the ebbs and the drought, in a movement of eternal restart.

In all seasons, life is teeming in the Pantanal, one of the largest wildlife reserves in the world. Here, travelers can see caimans, wild pigs, capybaras, deer and monkeys; with a little luck, they may even spot more elusive species, such as the jaguar.

Map of the Pantanal
Map of the Pantanal

Birds fly in flocks or huddle by the hundreds on tree branches; their bustle opens and closes the day.

The incessant noise of insects and frogs fills the night. The richness of the fauna is the result of a complex interweaving of ecosystems, which gives the landscape an unsuspected variety.

The landscape alternates between mountain ranges – the name given to the small elevations between the flooded regions – lakes, rivers, gallery forests, savannahs, traces of Amazonian forest, limestone waters, caves, capons, marshes and ponds.

Close to the Pantanal, but outside its boundaries, the Chapada dos Guimarães and the Bonito region offer travelers new possibilities for wonder and enchantment, in landscapes of waterfalls, great red walls, waterfalls and submerged lakes that reveal a unique shade of blue when illuminated by a glimmer of sunlight.

In the vast expanse of the flood plains, among the wildlife and unique geographical formations, a unique culture has developed, the offspring of the crossing of several others and perfectly integrated with the local nature.

There are indigenous, Paraguayan, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and southern traits that can be seen in the daily work of the Pantanal cattle drover, in the curious accent of the natives, in the Hispanic sounds of the guitar players, in the popular festivals, in the typical dishes and in the clay handicrafts.

A universe that, although increasingly permeable to external influences, remains faithful to its origin and essence – still authentic, rustic, Pantanal.

It’s not uncommon for rivers to replace roads in the Pantanal and for people to travel by boat and motorboat; hotels are sometimes isolated by water or reachable on horseback or in jeeps, the only means of overcoming the mud.

The day passes quickly, filled with horseback riding, fishing and excursions to spot animals, long conversations with the pantaneiros and copious meals by the wood-burning stove.

At night, on the veranda of the farm or on the bow of a boat, the traveler will be surprised to see so many stars that the sky turns silver, scattered with black stripes.

He will then feel part of this cycle that repeats itself indefinitely, with its droughts and floods, with the movement of wild animals and the movement of cattle, with the voice of the guitar players under the starry surface: to go to the Pantanal, the tangle of seemingly inapprehensible knots, is to finally understand what integration and permanence – or eternity – are.

When to go to the Pantanal in Mato Grosso?

The best time to visit is from May to September, when it rains less. In the months of April to May, when the waters begin to recede, wildlife watching becomes better.

The rainy season begins in October and lasts until April, with January and February being the wettest months.

See in detail the climate of the Pantanal in Mato Grosso

See the following publications on the Pantanal of Mato Grosso:

  1. Watching Mammals and Reptiles in the Pantanal
  2. Fishing in the Pantanal – Best places, baits, methods and seasons
  3. Most common fish species in the Pantanal
  4. Bird watching in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso
  5. Most common bird species in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso
  6. Flora of the Pantanal of Mato Grosso
  7. Fauna of the Pantanal of Mato Grosso
  8. Mato Grosso Pantanal – Geography, Climate, Soil and Rivers
  9. History of the Mato Grosso Pantanal – Discovery and Economic Development
  10. Southern Pantanal Region
  11. North Pantanal Region
  12. Why go to the Pantanal in Mato Grosso?
  13. Campo Grande MS – Travel Guide

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