I have been few month ago in Pantanal (large swamp) Brazil, And I have a secret to share with you guys...
It's a secret that, until recently, was known only to film crews: The best place in South America to see wildlife is not the Amazon but the Pantanal.
|Pantanal wildlife was great. I've never seen so many animals in such a small place with such a variety (except maybe the zoo). If you ever go to Brazil never miss this Place, Although it is not as famous as Amazon, Pantanal for me is place number 1 you should go, in any trip to Brazil.|
|I like pantanal much more than the Amazon, since in the Amazon, the animals hide in the dense foliage, but in the open spaces of the Pantanal, wildlife is visible to the most casual observer. If you like to see animals in their natural environment, the Pantanal ? with the greatest concentration of fauna in the New World ? should not be missed.|
|The Pantanal, is the world's largest wetland and will be a paradise for those seeking a wide range of wildlife and water plants. Some say it is the prime area for viewing wildlife in all of South America.|
The Pantanal lies in the western part of Brazil and extends into regions of Bolivia and Paraguay
to approximately 230,000 km2. It is home to iguanas, jaguars, cougars, crocodiles, deer, and more than 600 species of birds and 200 varieties of fish. The Pantanal has no towns and very few people.
|If you have the opportunity to go up the Rio Cuiaba River in a canoe with a guide you'll see quite a few alligators. Just keep in mind that these gentle creatures never attack unless provoked.
Much of the region is also accessible by jeep, permitting close-ups of the wildlife and the lush vegetation.
The Pantanal sedimentary plain is still undergoing geological formation and so is influenced by its two cycles. During the wet season (November to April), the region is flooded as a consequence of the overflowing of its numerous waterways (rivers, lakes and streams) which form the Silver Basin: this is the time of an explosion of colours in the rich flora. The animals, especially the mammals, look for - wooded mounds- where they shelter during this period. It normally rains for about 2 hours in the afternoon or evening and much of the water flows in from places many miles away.
In the dry season (May to October), the region presents small lakes, many of which are perennial, which constitute the food source for a great variety of animals including migratory birds from various parts of the Planet. Approximately 700 species of birds; 100 of mammals; 80 of reptiles; 240 of fish as well as a great number of invertebrates sitll not classified, constitute the richest variety of fauna to be found in the Americas.
Unlike many other biologically intense areas, in the Pantanal you are virtually guaranteed to actually SEE the wildlife. There are close to 10 million Yacare Caiman present within the Pantanal and during the Dry Season every bridge crossing on the Transpantaneira is surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of Caimans basking or fighting for space in the ever dwindling lagoons. Capybara, like the Caiman, are also present in the millions and are likely to be encountered every few seconds while driving. The Pantanal is also home to a variety of birds (including the endangered Hyacinth Macaw, which is easily spotted.) Other mammals are slightly harder to spot, but still much easier than in the Amazon. On a boat ride through the river you are likely to spot the endangered Giant River Otter and Red-bellied Piranha (the Otter's favorite meal.) With the right guide and a couple of days on the river the chances of spotting a Jaguar (or perhaps even more than one) are actually very high. The Pantanal is the best place in all of the Americas to spot a Jaguar in the wild, given the relatively small amount of thick rain forest cover. Here are the migratory routes of the animals:
THE FLOOD (JAN/FEB/MAR) - Concentration of mammmals in small unflooded areas of land ( mounds and hills) *** Explosion of colours in the rich flora, especially aquatic plants *** Ideal means of transport: boat and canoe *** Fishing prohibited; caiman nests *** Few mosquitoes *** Fruits: guava, seriguela *** More difficult access *** longer days*** though it rains more during this time, it's usually only for an hour or two a day - the reason it floods is because such a large area drains into it
|EMPTYING - DRY ( APR/MAY/JUN) : Beginning of the concentration of birds and reptiles. Return of migratory birds such as the Spoonbill and Wood Storks from the Everglades (Florida/USA) *** Fresher climate, cooler nights *** Means of transport : boat, horse and cart *** In the beginning of the period, presence of mosquitoes at nightfall *** Production of milk and dairy products *** Birth of young caimans|
DRY ( JUL/AUG/SEP ) - Concentration of birds and reptiles in the few water pools *** Blossoming of yellow, lilac and pink production of bees honey *** Excellent for fishing *** Winter climate. Cold nights. Abrupt temperature changes *** Means of transport : boat, horse and cart, on foot, and tractor *** Easy access *** short days *** Poor visibility due to dust and smoke; August's cashew rain is the only exception *** Wood Stork and Spoonbill nests (migratory birds) and Jabiru Storks;
FLOODING ( OCT/NOV/DEC ) - Preparation of migratory birds for return *** Beginning of flowering of all vegetation, scent of flowers and bees *** Fruition of the majority of the vegetation ( cactus, cashew, mango) *** Large concentration of small birds *** Means of transport : boat, horse, cart and on foot *** Mating time for the majority of animals such as jaguars, hyacinth macaws, toucans, deer *** Action of predators such as snakes, lizards, hawks, and jaguars *** Towards the end of this period, presence of mosquitoes at nightfall *** Cloudy skies - pretty sunrises and sunsets; Long days.
The second main destination is Campo Grande, in the Northern Pantanal. This area is a bit more developed, but does offer Bonito, an excellent for eco-tourists, the hard to reach and resultantly more pristine Corumba with various lodging options and great opportunities for the sports-fishermen.
One of the best ways to explore the Pantanal is just like the locals do: on horseback. There are very few roads that exist in the Pantanal, and horses can carry you into areas that otherwise couldn't be reached due to flooding and other conditions. Other methods of transportation are usually boats, four wheel drive trucks, and the occasional footpath.
An ideal stay in the Pantanal is a healthy 4-5 days; the longer you spend looking for wildlife, the better your chances of seeing it. At night there are tours available in which you can spot various night creatures including the seldom seen jaguars. The Transpantaneira, an abandoned roadway project that was meant to cross the Pantanal, now offers some of the greatest wildlife viewing spots.
When to Go
The best time to visit the Pantanal is between June and September when the water level in the marshes and rivers is low and the animals are more easily seen.
The rain season is from November to the beginning of April. At this time, many areas become flooded; oftentimes roads accessible by car during the dry season now only become accessible by boats. From May to October the water levels slowly diminish, and by the end of October the large lakes become smaller ponds and even puddles. As fish get trapped in these small watering holes, this becomes feasting time for birds as well asfor the eyes of those who have come especially for bird watching.
Things to Avoid
Don't wander into the vast Pantanal without advice from a guide who knows the dangers of the area and stay out of the river, as the currents can be very strong.
Don't venture into the waters without checking with the locals for dangerous conditions.
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