Holidays in the Pantanal Wetlands
Most people would say the Amazon is the best place to see wildlife in Brazil, but they'd be wrong by about 1000 miles... If you're keen to see a huge variety of birds and animals, coupled with some weird and wonderful scenery then forget the Amazon and head west into the fantastic wetlands of the Pantanal...
Right in the heart of South America, and roughly seven times the size of Wales, the Pantanal covers most of two Brazilian states, as well as extending into Bolivia and Paraguay. This huge area, and its relative isolation from the main population centres, means holidays in the Pantanal, not the Amazon, are the best wildlife holidays in Brazil.
On tours in the Pantanal, the sheer variety of wildlife you can see is amazing. Because the Pantanal contains several distinct ecosystems, ranging from high savannah to swampy marsh, many different types of birds and animals can make their homes here. Over 1000 bird species, 480 species of reptiles, more than 400 species of fish, and over 300 types of mammals make their home right here in the Pantanal.
Even better, unlike in the densely-forested, low-light environment of the Amazon, much of the Pantanal area is comparatively open, meaning that it's much easier to see the wildlife on holidays in the Pantanal than in a pure rainforest environment. In the Amazon, you could be just feet away from an animal but not see it through the trees, but on Pantanal tours you are much more likely to be able to observe the wildlife for extended periods.
Among the animals you can hope to see in the Pantanal are Giant Otters, Maned Wolves, Marsh deer, Bush dogs, Giant anteaters, Tapirs, several types of caiman, iguanas, anacondas and - most excitingly of all - the elusive Jaguar. The Pantanal is home to the largest and healthiest jaguar population in the world, making this the place to try and see this enigmatic and beautiful creature.
If you're a birder then a holiday in the Pantanal will be an amazing experience. To date, over 700 species of birds have been recorded as making their home here in the Pantanal, including more than a dozen types of Macaw and no fewer than 26 recorded species of parrots. There are over 45 species of birds of prey to be found, and it's not unusual for a single night's birding tour to reward you with over 100 different species.
Pantanal Wetlands Climate
Temperatures in the Pantanal remain fairly constant throughout the year, but there is a pronounced difference in rainfall and humidity between the dry and rainy seasons.
Unless humidity doesn't bother you then the best time for a holiday in the Pantanal is from April through to October, when the climate is drier and more temperate. This time is also better for tours exploring the Pantanal on foot and on horseback.
Getting to and from the Pantanal
The Pantanal is generally divided into two areas: north and south. The south is accessed through flights to the city of Campo Grande but for our money, the best lodges and wildlife holidays are in the north of the Pantanal, meaning a flight to the regional capital of Cuiaba.
There are no direct flights to Cuiaba from Rio (although there are from Sao Paulo), but there are regular flights via the southern hub of Curitiba, so it's not an arduous journey.