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  • Pantanal North, Brazil

    Pantanal North Info and Miniguide

    The Pantanal is the world’s largest area of wetlands, a flat landscape, with gently sloping and meandering rivers. The region, whose name derives from the Portuguese word “pântano” (meaning “swamp” or “marsh”). In total, the Pantanal covers about 195,000 square kilometers (75,000 sq mi). The ecosystem is home to a known 3,500 species of plants, as well as over 1000 birds, 400 species of fish, around 300 species of mammals, and 480 species of reptiles, including the caiman, a species closely related to the alligator, of which there are an estimated 10 million. The Pantanal is a natural home for the Hyacinth Macaw. Other threatened species abundant in the Pantanal include the Jaguar, Caiman, Maned Wolf, Bush Dog, Giant Otter, Giant Armadillo, Capybara, Jabiru and Brazilian Tapir.

    Read More about Pantanal North

    Pantanal North

    While the Amazon walks away with all the fame and glory, it is Pantanal North which is a much better place to observe wildlife in its most pristine state. While the animals in the Amazon hide in thick foliage, Pantanal North has open spaces where it is possible for the most casual observer to view wildlife. Situated on the central west part of Brazil, covering nearly 140,000 square kilometers across the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Mato Grosso, Pantanal is the best place in Brazil for observing birds, fauna and flora. It is the richest eco system found on the planet with the world’s largest flooded land and enormous environmental reserves. It has the best of what Brazil has to offer – its people and nature.

    Pantanal Seasons

    Pantanal has two major seasons during the year – the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season lasts from January to June when the volume of river water slowly rises to peak and flood the lowlands and banks of the region. The creeks swell with an abundance of fish, thereby attracting the migratory birds. The animals concentrate in the dry areas whereas the reptiles spread over the area. Tractors, horses and boats are used for transportation at this time.

    The dry season comes after June and lasts till December and during this period the flood waters recede, bringing back to the surface once submerged vegetation. The rivers and lagoons tend to dry up towards the end of this season and animals flock to riverbanks for water and feeding.

    When to Go

    Pantanal North displays tropical climate with winter setting in the months of June and September. The temperature can be quite hot during the daytime but fall starkly to 0 C during nights. The weather in Cuiaba is hot throughout the year with average temperature of 30 C (86). The annual precipitation is nearly 55 inches. During the rainy season animals tend to cluster on the islands and the humidity, oppressive heat and concentration of mosquitoes make it an inhospitable place. The water levels start receding from April and temperatures also decrease. The best time to visit would be from June to October when the flora and fauna are at their splendorous best. You should wear along T-shirts, jeans and hats in the mornings and pack warm jackets for the nights when the temperature can get chilly and even drop to 0 C.

    Getting There

    There are no direct flights to Pantanal North from outside Brazil. You would have to first stop at Sao Paulo, Brasilia or Rio de Janeiro and take a flight with local carriers like TAM or Gol to Cuiaba, the gateway city of Pantanal North. Depending on the season you are visiting in, you will either head out in a 4 wheel drive, boat, canoe or horseback.

    Getting Around

    Most tourist who come to Pantanal make arrangements with organized tour operators as independent exploring requires a lot of money and time and you will not be making the most of your trip. The distances between the cities and interiors are large. The Transpantaneira road has good access to the interiors of the region and many buses ply on its path.

    Attractions in Pantanal North

    The flora and fauna are without a doubt what brings visitors into this wilderness. The Paraguay River is the spine of this ecosystem that is home to more than 800 animal species, over 650 bird varieties, 250 fishes and over 50 different kinds of reptiles. The shore of the river shelters rare species of peccaries, bobcats, wild boars, jaguars, ducks, butterflies, anacondas, river otters, caiman, tarantulas and tapir.

    The capybara found here is a peculiar rodent that can grow to be as big as a small pig. Spotting the elusive jaguar requires some luck and venturing into the deeper interiors of Pantanal. The diversity of bird life found here is unique and amazing. It is the shelter for migratory birds arriving or leaving to North, South and Central America. It is quite possible to see a dazzling array of spoonbill, jaburus, parakeets, kingfishers, Gray Teals, pigeons, partridges, herons, parrots, emus, toucans and ibis perched on isolated trees or scouring for fish trapped in small lakes and ponds. You will be overwhelmed by the din and chants of so many wading birds.

    No other experience is as rewarding as a safari into this sanctified wilderness to photograph innumerable animals and birds against the mesmerizing backdrop of blue skies and foliage.

    Activities at Pantanal North

    This region is famous for its cattle ranching on gigantic farms, some of which have been converted into hotels housing guests from all over the globe throughout the year. Staying at one of these pousadas is the best way to experience the day to day life of the cowboys and also to explore the interiors of Pantanal. You can combine comfort with experiencing authentic ranch life. The packages contain many activities you can indulge in such as hiking, horse back riding, fishing, bird watching, radical sports and rafting, swimming, diving, camping and photographic safaris.

    Pantanal North Cities

    Pantanal North covers the cities of Cuiaba, Pocone, Barao de Melgaco, Caceres and Chapada dos Guimaraes.


    This is the starting point of your journey to explore the Pantanal. The airport is close to the city center, approximately 3 miles away. The city boasts of some good infrastructure with malls, hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. Special tourist buses can be found that depart to the most popular attractions of the Pantanal.


    Located nearly 135 miles from Cuiaba, this is the point where the Wetlands and Cerrado meet the Amazon Forest. It is mostly known for its International Fishing Festival.


    It is the town where the Transpantaneira highway begins, connecting it to Porto Jofre which is full of rich fauna and flora. The Parque Nacional do Pantanal Mato Grossense, a famous national park, can be accessed only with the permission of the Brazilian Environment Institute. You can get here by boat from the town of Porto Jofre.

    Chapada dos Guimaraes

    Although it is not located in the wetlands, it is a must see destination. Just 42 miles from the city of Cuiaba, it has interesting rock formations, canyons, plateaus, hiking trails, swimming holes, a 2700 feet high waterfall, fabulous views and a fun Echo Wall where you can hear your own voice calling you back. It houses nearly 46 archaeological marvels with ancient cave paintings of pre historic animals and fossils.

    Where to Stay

    Pantanal North has a wide range of accommodations to choose from including budget hotels, mid range lodges, camping and 4-5 star hotels. When you book with a tour operator, you will have to choose between camping and staying at one of the good pousadas. You can contact lodges directly or through tour operators such as Natureco Tours in Cuiaba. The lodges usually arrange for pick up and drop off and going into the deeper regions. Some of the options you can check out are Araras Eco Lodge, Pousada Piuval, Pousada Curicaca, Fazenda Santa Tereza, Pousada do Rio Mutum, Pousada Baguari, Pousada Rio Claro, Porto Jofre Hotel, and Porto Paraiso.

    Local Cuisine

    The pousadas offer some fantastic fish dishes typical of the region. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try out Pintado and Pacu, the two most popular fish delicacies here. They are prepared in various ways and served in the best restaurants. Mojica is a native dish which is a fish soup in which pieces of pintado are cooked with spring onion, manioc and coriander. Pintado Urucum is a lightly fried fish dish served with sauce prepared with grated cheese and creamy coconut milk. Paco fritos are also quite popular here. The adventurous can try many daring dishes like piranha soup and crocodile meat, but only if it is acceptable from a conservation point of view. Cuiaba has a wide array of restaurants catering to international palates and tastes.

    Night Life

    Most people don’t come to the Pantanal for the nightlife. It is better to reserve your strength for the next day’s grueling transfers and excursions. Your time is better spent undertaking safaris to spot elusive nocturnal animals. However, the city of Cuiaba does have its nocturnal attractions. It comes alive in its bars like Ninho’s Bar at Rua Laranjeiras where you can enjoy some live music and a fabulous view of the city. Avenida CPA is another area which has some good bars where night live music.

    Shopping at Pantanal North

    Cuiaba is a great place to shop for regional indigenous arts and crafts. Most of the stores are located around the city center, Centro. Some of the well known outlets are Feira de Artesanato, Artindia, Porto and Casa do Artesao. You can also buy some cowboy clothes and equipment like hats, jeans, boots, spurs, gloves etc at stores like Sapataria Centro Oeste and Texas Country Selaria.

    A trip to Pantanal North is a once in a lifetime opportunity for those who love nature, its mysteries and its adventures. The rewards you receive are well worth the effort you put in. Mother Nature reveals herself at her best only in her most remote and pure form.

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