Bang in the centre of the South American continent lies the world’s largest and most pristine tropical wetland, the Pantanal. Though somewhat overshadowed by its more famous neighbour the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal is a massive mosaic of flooded grasslands, savannahs, marshes, seasonal rivers and channels, and tropical forests. It covers a vast region with an area of over 180,000 square kilometres, mostly in Brazil, but also stretching into Paraguay and Bolivia. Within this unique land, a huge reservoir of biodiversity, and the continent’s highest concentration of wildlife, thrives. Over 650 bird species flourish in this wondrous zone: vibrant hyacinth macaws, graceful anhingas, enormous jabiru storks and so on. The fascinating 159 species of mammals that live here include giant anteaters, giant river otters, capybaras, jaguars. In the magical waterways of the Pantanal 325 fish species breed, feeding the region’s birds, mammals, and reptiles, including anacondas and millions of caimans.
Viewing wildlife in the Pantanal is dependent on the season and water levels, and there’s something different and unique going on throughout the year. Wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, eco-tourists and naturalists consider this a true animal paradise. From January to March, 80% of the land is flooded and boats and canoes are the main mode of transportation. For the next three months the water of the flooded plains recedes and it’s possible to also explore parts of the region on horseback. In the dry months from July to September, large numbers of birds and reptiles can be spotted near the drying pools, and visitors can start exploring on foot as well. In October, as the rains gets underway once again, water levels start to rise. Migratory birds leave, but for the resident animals it is mating season.