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Stretching 70,000 square miles across central-west Brazil and spilling into both Paraguay and Bolivia, the Pantanal - part National Park, part UNESCO World Heritage Site - is the world's largest tropical wetland, and home to some truly exceptional biodiversity.
Often overlooked in favour of its more-famous neighbour the Amazon, the Pantanal is in fact regarded as the best place to spot wild animals in the whole of South America, with caiman, howler monkeys, giant otters, anacondas, and even the elusive Jaguar just a selection of the often-spotted and always thrilling wildlife to be found here. And unlike the Amazon where dense forest can hinder one's view, the wide-open landscape of the Pantanal provides a view of the seemingly endless glistening greenery simply bursting with life. For the nature lover, there simply isn't anywhere quite like this.
The Pantanal is split across two states: Mato Grosso (the northern Pantanal) and Mato Grosso do Sul (the Southern Pantanal). The Southern Pantanal is the most visited and the town of Campo Grande is the access point for the area.
There are a number of lodges and ranches across both regions where you can stay and explore the area. Each lodge is located in a different part of the wetlands, and most include full board and a programme of excursions into the wetlands with their own guides.
The best way to experience the Pantanal, however, is by boat, and spotting wildlife as you gently move through the lagoons and waterways is a truly fantastic experience.
The Pantanal dry season runs from April to October, when temperatures range from 23C - 28C, and the wildlife is out in full force. The best time for both bird-watching and the chance of spotting Jaguar is July to September.
The wet season runs from November to March, with the rains rendering over 80% of the region underwater, making travel harder and more limited. We do not really recommend travelling during the peak of the wet season, from December to February.
In need of some more inspiration? Have a look at our Brazil itineraries.
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