Updated: Sep 29
Go for the fishing, culinary, ecotourism, unique ecosystem and national park.
Here is another extraordinary destination for anglers, wildlife watchers, and ecotourism enthusiasts. The Pantanal is the world's largest freshwater wetland (20 times larger than the Everglades) and; although, not as famous as the Brazilian Rainforest, its incredible rich biodiversity offers visitors a much closer connection with the wildlife, in general. There is no place else in Brazil where you have a pretty good chance to spot a great number of unique birds, like the Jabiru Stork (aka Tuiuiú, the tallest flying bird in South and Central Americas) and the Hyacinth Macaw (the largest parrot); as well as, large animals like the Caimans, Capybaras, Tapirs (aka Antas) and even Jaguars.
If you plan to visit the Pantanal for wildlife observation, the best time is when the rain season stops and the waters are coming down; that typically takes place between April and May. The worst time would be from October to March because that is the rain season and the animals tend to hide.
The Pantanal is also an outstanding place for a fishing adventure, thus totally different from the Brazilian Rainforest. Despite the different types of catfish ( the Jaú, the Cachara or Pintado, the Surubim, etc.), and of other fierce predators like the Piranhas and the Payaras (or Vampire Fish); a dream of every angler should include a tight line with a Golden Dorado (the "Salminus brasiliensis") on its end.
That beautiful and brute fish knows how to put up a good fight, it likes to jump and can reach up to 3 feet and 70 pounds in size (the established record is actually 51 inches and 75 pounds). When fishing for Golden Dorados in Pantanal, it is reasonable to expect a catch in between 4 to14 pounds, but don't be much surprised to hook bigger ones. Some of the most famous "Golden Dorados" rivers in Pantanal are the Piquiri, the São Lourenço, the Manso and the Paraguai. Fishing for Golden Dorado in Pantanal is Catch and Release since this species has been severely threatened by predatory fishing practices for many years. The season to fish for Golden Dorado in Pantanal varies a bit depending on the region and the river, but it is mainly from March to October, since it is not allowed to fish for Dorado during its spawning months.
Finally, do not miss the opportunity to get fully immersed in the local culture and try the local culinary. The people from the Pantanal are mostly very simple and musical, many of them descendants of native Indians and of frontiersman and miners looking for gold; who ended up staying in the region as ranchers. The local culinary is also simple, using rice, beans, Yucca, fish from their rivers, and meat from their ranches; and influences from the local native Indians and neighboring countries, like Bolivia and Paraguay.
The vast majority of the Pantanal is in Brazil, where in can be accessed from Campo Grande (MS) in the South end, or from Cuiabá (MT) in the North end.
If you decide to visit Pantanal from the South side, consider getting out of your way for a multi-day visit to Bonito, a beautiful and very well maintained eco-touristic destination, full of caves, waterfalls and turquoise rivers where you can snorkel downstream and observe a variety of aquatic life, such as the Piraputanga and the Golden Dorado. If you approach Pantanal from the North, consider a one-day visit to Chapada Guimarães National Park; there you will see one of the most beautiful canyons of Brazil, as well as several other interesting rock formations and beautiful waterfalls. If you can, visit them all !!!
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