Top Ten Brazil Classic Adventures

See Wildlife in the Pantanal
By Shawn Blore
  |  Gorp.com

It's a secret that until very recently was known only to film crews: the best place in South America to see wildlife is not the Amazon but the Pantanal. Now the word's out, and this France-sized wetland on the far western edge of Brazil is fast becoming a must-see. And with good reason: The Pantanal is bursting with animals—capybaras, caimans, jaguars, anacondas, giant otters, scarlet macaws, and flocks of storks and herons. Unlike in the Amazon, where the dense green foliage makes the creatures harder to see, the Pantanal is tailor-made for eco-touring. In the wet season, the Pantanal becomes one vast lake, so most mammals congregate on the few remaining dry bits. In the dry season, everything draws in to the few remaining waterholes. The only problem is getting around.

Few roads exist in the Pantanal; the best way to explore the area is make like the locals and head out on horseback. Brazilian cattle ranchers have grazed their livestock here for decades. Nowadays, many of these fazendas offer places to sleep and horses to rent: Tag along after the ranch hands on their daily rides to pick up cattle, or set out on your own to explore.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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