Spotting Pantanal wildlife in the largest wetland region in the world is relatively easy, due to the flat landscape. The flat land works in favor for wildlife enthusiasts, as there is no jungle to hide many of the animals from sight.
Covering over 81,000 square miles across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, the Pantanal Region is as vast as it is fascinating. The bulk of the Pantanal lies in Brazil and is split between the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. There are just two roads that service the entire region: the Estrada Parque and the Transpantaneira. Both are incredibly scenic and neither survives the severe floods that come in peak rainy season. If you arrive to find the road you need is underwater you will need to hop in a plane or boat to access the region.
Wildlife in the Pantanal
Now that you have an overview of the Pantanal Region, let’s delve into why most people choose to take on the challenge of visiting it. There’s no denying that the Pantanal is far from easily accessible but the wildlife that can be found here makes it all worthwhile. From the skies down to the ground, and into the water, the area is teeming with creatures of all shapes and size.
In the Sky
Look up and you will be awestruck by the myriad of colors swirling over your head. Hyacinth macaws and toco toucans, the largest of the toucans, are among the most prominent players in the bird scene thanks to their bright colors and notable features. But, the show-stopper is the iconic jabiru, a unique stork that is commonly spotted in the area. With its white body, orange neck and black head, the jabiru is easy to identify.
On the Land
Land animals reign supreme in the Pantanal Region. Of course, the number one creature visitors hope to see during their trip is the jaguar. The largest of the South American cats, the jaguar is the king of the Pantanal, but only the luckiest travelers will lay eyes on it. If you are hoping to spot a jaguar then the best time to visit the Pantanal is between June and August. This period falls in the dry season, when animals are easy to spot as they congregate around the few remaining water holes.
If you don’t manage to see a jaguar, you still might be able to satisfy your wild cat craving by spotting an ocelot, the second largest big cat. Or you can feast your eyes on some of the other wildlife that prowls through the region. Tapirs, giant anteaters, giant otters, marsh deer, ring-tailed coatis, capybaras and giant anteaters are all regularly spotted here.
In the Water
Finally, we turn our attention to the murky water of the pools and rivers of the Pantanal. But, before we discuss the water-bound wildlife, the giant lilypads that float atop the bodies of water deserve a mention. Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing feature of the entire Pantanal Region, the lilypads make for some exceptional photos.
There are two particularly fearsome animals you should look out for in the water here. The first is the piranha with its razor sharp teeth. There are plenty of opportunities to fish for piranhas and if you manage to hook a few you can eat them for dinner. Fried piranha is a delicacy in the Pantanal. The second fearsome water predator is the caiman. The smaller cousin of the crocodile, caimans are frequently spotted throughout the region.
This list of wildlife is far from exhaustive - with 80 species of mammals, 650 species of birds, 50 of reptiles and 300 of fish there are simply too many to list. The best way to learn about the wildlife in the Pantanal is to go and see it with your own eyes. You won’t regret your decision to make the Pantanal in Brazil your next vacation. For more information about Pantanal Wildlife of for booking a Pantanal Cruise, please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.