BRAZIL  |  The Pantanal, Brazil Travel Guide
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The Pantanal Orientation

The Pantanal Orientation

The Pantanal is roughly divided into two parts, North and South. There are only small ecological differences between the two, the main distinction being the gateway towns. Cuiabá, capital of the state of Mato Grosso, is the northern gateway, while Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, is the southern one. Neither town is itself a destination. In the 1970s, the government decided to build a road connecting the two towns, which are 400 miles apart. Fortunately, it was never completed for it would certainly have upset the eco-system. But a start was made and so today we have the Transpantaneirá, a bare-earth road, studded with log bridges, that has ironically become a prime wildlife-viewing area. You can see flocks of macaws, herons, deer, capybaras, egrets, storks, caimans and monkeys simply wandering along the road. The Pantanal is home to 650 species of birds, 80 mammals and over 50 reptiles, including giant anacondas.

Unlike the jungle of the Amazon, which has more diversity, but is enclosed in an impenetrable cover of trees, the Pantanal allows for easy wildlife sightings. Because of the Pantanal’s relative isolation, access by way of independent travel is quite difficult and you should consider taking a packaged tour. Thankfully, as tourism to the area has increased, so have the touring options. You’ll need a minimum of three days and two nights to see the wildlife. Keep in mind that animals such as jaguars, pumas, capybaras and tarantulas are seen only at night. If you want to go trekking or rafting, add a day or two to your trip. If you include rafting or canoeing on one of the area’s small rivers, you might see the huge river otters and monkeys for which the Pantanal is known. Your guide will take you to the best viewing areas. Most excursions are by four-wheel-drive cars, but you can also travel on horseback. First-rate birding, trekking, canoeing, truck photo-safaris and night tours are led by multi-lingual naturalist guides. All operators work with a variety of fazendas (cattle ranches with accommodations) and pousadas.

Last updated October 14, 2008
Posted in   Brazil  |  The Pantanal
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