I had never heard of the Pantanal nor could have located it on the map before I traveled to Brazil. It was not until I was on my Amazon River cruise when I learned about the Pantanal, an enormous wetland area in southern Brazil, in the state of Mato Grosso. On the cruise, I had gotten the chance to speak with some of the other passengers on the boat about the Pantanal. Many of them had just arrived from a trip to the Pantanal and raved about how if I love wildlife, I had to visit there.
After my trip to the Amazon Rainforest, I returned to the USA and promptly began researching and planning my next trip to Brazil – this time to the Pantanal. The Pantanal is the largest inland swamp in the world and has the highest concentration of painted jaguars in the world. I was very excited to see capybara, which are the largest rodents in the world, plus caimans, huge storks, birds, river otters, and of course, jaguars.
When I embarked on my Pantanal wildlife trip, I started in Cuiaba, the major city in the Pantanal region. Once my guide picked me up in Cuiaba, my 4-day adventure began! The long trip to the lodge would take about 3 hours and I would travel down the Transpantaneira Road. This dirt road had amazing views from the car and along the way I saw lots of caiman, owls, capybara, birds, and many more animals.
The ride along the Transpantaneira Road is not a time to snooze – be sure to keep your camera ready. There are stopping points along the way to take pictures and get a closer look at the wildlife.
Day 2: Jaguar Spotting
Of course the anticipation of hopefully seeing a jaguar was difficult to contain. I awoke very early the next morning and climbed into the boats before the sun came up and we took off for our first full day trip searching each twist and turn in the river for signs of jaguars or other wildlife. Throughout the day I was surprised by how many amazing creatures I saw, but unfortunately, I still hadn’t laid eyes on the elusive jaguar.
On our last lap around the rivers, finally, my guide had the boat driver cut the engine, and there it was, a beautiful jaguar had jumped up to rest itself on a fallen tree. The feeling I had is difficult to describe to see this beautiful cat in front of me, in the wild, in its own habitat. Then, with what felt like only a few moments, it jumped down and walked off into the jungle.
Days 3-4: Even More Jaguars
How blessed I felt to have seen this absolutely amazing animal! I was so lucky see even more on the next few days.
The final afternoon we were surprised to come across a male and female jaguar that stayed along the riverbank for over 2 hours. The picture here is of one of the jaguars I watched walk back and forth for hours. The guide said that it was unusual for the jaguars to stay on the bank for that long, in view of people. Usually these cats are very shy. I was mesmerized and sad I had to leave the next day, as I could not get enough of these majestic creatures!
Pantanal Wildlife Trips
The SouthAmerica.travel team are experts in creating travel packages to the Pantanal. There are several lodges that you can choose from in the Pantanal region, including the Jaguar Ecological Reserve, Rio Mutum, UESO Lodge, and the Araras Lodge. You can stay for as little as 3 nights or as much as 5 nights, or create a customized itinerary. There are also other activities available in the region, such as snorkeling in Nobres and hiking in the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Pantanal wildlife trip, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Inquire about availability for your travel dates and get recommendations on how to put together a fantastic trip to the Pantanal.