Brazil’s Pantanal: A place of superlatives. Home to the world’s largest fresh-water wetlands, the Pantanal is ten-times the size of the Everglades, draining into a single channel: the Paraguay River. We venture deep into this world-class wildlife hotspot on a long road that bisects the Transpantaneira wilderness, in search of an adventure that can’t be missed.
In this famed region, we discover wildlife thriving in a mix of savanna, forest, and wetland habitats. Even a relaxed day can yield more than 100 species of birds and dozens of mammals — Capybara, the world’s largest rodent, are everywhere!
Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and yes, Jaguar (we saw four on our 2016 trip!), are five of many incredible mammals we seek while Harpy Eagle, Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, and Helmeted Manakin top the list of impressive bird sightings. The rare Green Anaconda, the world’s largest snake, may be a lucky find, while the small crocodilian Yacaré can be seen by the hundreds. For many, it is the sheer number and variety of species that leaves the most lasting impression.
Charming (and working) cattle ranches provide our accommodations, each with its own impressive and distinctive wildlife community. Lazy afternoons invite photographers to wander between shade circles of the ranch trees for rare time with Hyacinth Macaw and other species.
- Try for South America’s “Big Five” of mammals: Brazilian Tapir, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, and Jaguar
- Witness the “Big Five” of birds: Harpy Eagle, Greater Rhea, Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, and Helmeted Manakin. Add Southern Screamer, Sunbittern, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, and so many more!
- Explore the Transpantaneira wilderness road on safari-like excursions
- Find five species of kingfisher
- Enjoy local cuisine and hospitality at fazendas (working cattle ranches) at several stages along the road
- Boat the Cuiabá River for an excellent chance at a Jaguar sighting
- See water birds in mass congregation — like those of the Everglades, but magnified!
- Support the Pantanal Wildlife Center with your visit
- Find at least four species of monkeys and several hundred species of birds
- Scan for night birds under intense southern sky constellations
- Experience a magical ritual at Santuário do Caraça, as priests set out scraps for the rare Maned Wolf
- Mix nature with culture on a final day visit to Ouro Preto, a spectacular World Heritage Site city
Photo credits: Banner: Hyacinth Macaws, Mark Wetzel; Agami Heron, Lori Conrad; Rufous Hornero, Peg Abbott; Jaguar, Peg Abbott, Boat-billed Herons, Tom Dove; Capybara Family, Peg Abbott; Caracara, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Giant Otter, Peg Abbott; Caiman, Xavier Muñoz.